Beatriz Álvarez: “Our great goal is for women's football to be sustainable”
“The stoppage of the referees on the first day cost us about 300,000 euros, but the greatest damage was emotional.”
“The Barça's sporting superiority is not our main problem, we have to let them continue to lead the way.”
Just before this interview, Beatriz Álvarez Mesa He has been in Valdebebas, meeting with Real Madrid, in a framework of meetings with all the clubs of the F League. The recently created competition was held on Fortuny Street in the capital. With the professional women's soccer league already launched, its president and the work team that accompanies her are now working hard to unite it and make it grow. They have not been easy months since his election in June, but he considers that the effort, despite the “barriers” and “triplets” he has encountered, has been worth it.
Question. what? take stock of the first days of the F League?
Response. A positive, intense and complicated balance. We have had to start a professional league in just three months and with many difficulties. We are satisfied because we have achieved the priority objectives that we set for ourselves from the beginning, although there is still a lot to do.
P. Having overcome these difficulties of the start-up, what is the main focus of work of the F League in these weeks?
R. You have to grow in many aspects. We have to improve in all aspects of marketing and audiovisual products. We have achieved the first step, that the first women's division is televised, and we have achieved an important commercial agreement with LaLiga, in addition to the nominal sponsor [Finetwork] that we announced recently. We are also in contact with many other companies that are going to enter the sponsorship and we are talking with the clubs about infrastructure improvements based on the subsidy granted by the CSD for this, because it is important to improve the quality of the product that we offer to televisions.
Q. You mention the commercial agreement with LaLiga. It was an important cushion to start the journey with economic guarantees.
R. It was vital. We didn't have time to survey the market and set up the structure, we didn't even have a headquarters… LaLiga has access to potential sponsors and reaches out to companies interested in football. In addition, it was important that the agreement was not only for one year, but that it gave stability and security to the clubs in the medium term. The agreement is going to benefit us and it will go growing, it is not only the 42 million euros that has been encrypted at the beginning.
P. what? audience data handled in these first days?
R. A comparison cannot be made, because we have been without television for three years, but we are satisfied. The audiences are important, but there are still many differences between the clubs themselves: it is not the same that Barcelona plays or that there is a derby to the matches of the recently promoted. We have to try to win the loyalty of viewers, Dazn is helping us. Helping by offering the first days for free, and generating a product that generates greater interest, from TV and also from those who go to the field. In that sense, there are plans to continue opening large stadiums for certain matches, something that allows more people to get involved.
Q. Is the current League sustainable with the income it is receiving? What is being achieved and the expenses committed, which are expected to increase with the new agreement?
R. That is the fundamental objective. The ultimate goal of the professional league is to make women's football sustainable. Is it today? Complicated. For the most modest and vulnerable clubs, yes. It is a sustainable model, because they cannot spend more than they earn and they do not. In the men's structures, with clubs spending more, they enjoy that support, but the women's team itself is more supportive. it is not sustainable in itself. himself.
P. Is the sporting superiority of Barça a future risk for the interests of the competition?
R. At present, it is not the biggest problem we have, there are other concerns, but in the future it could be a problem and we will have to avoid it. How? it will come a moment in which there has to be an economic control and also a moment in which the small clubs have more resources and the competition can be more balanced, although real equality will never happen. there is, as there is not in any competition. Right now we have to let Barça continue to lead the way, to continue betting as it does on women's football, because it is a benchmark. If we want this league to be a world reference, Barça is a spearhead that takes us through Europe. That Alexia Putellas is the best player in the world and is happy. in our league it's great for us, we have to let them keep moving forward while we try to push those below us.
P. How much damage did the postponement of the first day due to the strike by the referees cause them?
R. The economic damage existed, because trips had been planned, the television production was already contracted… We lack data to close, but it could be around 300,000 euros. But the greatest damage was emotional, we had been working for this moment for three months and many people had been dreaming of that moment for years, including the players. That week was very very hard, fortunately it was resolved. and it seems that things are calming down a bit.
P. Do you think they could have done something different or better in that management?
A. Well, surely. If the professional league had been established in January, in September we would have started in better conditions. Surely we have made mistakes and are self-critical, but on this specific issue of the referees, we had been having several meetings with the RFEF and we were never told what was wrong. a concern that the referees were at a point where they saw it as untenable. It was clear that they had to improve their conditions, but while the players are being patient with their agreement, so as not to call for a strike or a stoppage, the referees were not. It was a stick and a lack of respect that the RFEF boycotted that first day. And it was also a lack of responsibility on the part of the CSD, which allowed it.
P. Will the salary of the referees be higher? a scale to negotiate that of the soccer players?
A. Not necessarily, because it doesn't happen in any sport. The agreement establishes a minimum salary, there are players who are much higher, as is the case in men's soccer, in which the referees are paid around 300,000 euros and the minimum salary is 300,000 euros. at 180,000, although hardly anyone charges it. We have to put on the table the income that the league has to negotiate the agreement and the needs of the more modest clubs to be able to grow. is It is clear that a club wants to earn as much money as possible so that it affects the team and mainly the players.
P. How is the negotiation of the new collective agreement going?
A. We are in it, we formed the table in August and we have already had meetings with the five unions, we meet every two weeks. At the moment the relationship is cordial, there is no special tension. it will come when we start talking about money, because it is inevitable that this will be the case. whatever.
P. How do you see, from a distance, the conflict between the 15 internationals and the RFEF?
A. From a distance. That is the answer. We have nothing to do with what has happened and I do not know what may have happened internally. The greatest respect I can have is silence and avoid giving opinions that could screw up.
P. is leaving the image, between one thing and another, that women's football is a world full of conflicts and disagreements. Are you worried?
R. I think we have a lot of good things to talk about and I try to focus on them to build. But it is also true that I have had difficult times, of thinking that instead of building I have to dedicate myself to overcoming barriers, inconveniences, difficulties, tripping… And that gives an image of women's soccer that is far from the ideal and from what we want to give. It will get ahead despite the tripping and barriers they want to put up.
P. Who wants to trip and barricade?
A. I have always stated it. There have been problems with the referees, non-EU women, commercial issues…
P. That is, the RFEF. Luis Rubiales.
A. There has always been a confrontation of competencies and that has made the progress of the competition very difficult, with many trips, when it would be very easy for each one to assume their competencies and coordinate. I understand that the RFEF as an institution has a fundamental role in women's football and in its professionalization, but the first thing it should respect would be the competitions of the league.
< img class="aligncenter" src="/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/beatriz-álvarez-our-great-goal-is-for-female-football-to-be-sustainable-3682692.jpg" alt= "Beatriz Álvarez: "Our main goal is to make women's football sustainable"" />
Q. Did you hurry up? Too much time for the Government in the search for a consensus in the Statutes?
R. There were many months of lack of consensus with the Statutes until it was reached, many months of comings and goings. Consensus should have come earlier to have more time. This has been the great bet of the CSD, and it must be recognized, as well. like the aid that was granted, but it is true that everything has slowed down a lot. They hoped that the problems of men's football would not spill over into women's football.
P. Was it a realistic hope?
A. I consider myself a fairly mediating person and I believe that the debate always improves. But the dialogue was difficult, because it is not there. clear competence framework. Once they have been resolved, through CSD resolutions, we have tried to build, but always against the clock.
P. what? What is your opinion of the current articles of the Sports Law?
R. We are happy. We were very concerned about the legal uncertainty that it left with respect to the exploitation of commercial assets. The amendment that has been proposed leaves us more calm so that the clubs can continue to have the resources they need so that the competition continues to grow and that is extendable to all professional leagues. It didn't just affect the men's league, it affected all of us.