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More than a dozen women in Spanish soccer have come forward to describe a range of sexist experiences, from paternalism to verbal abuse. The recent controversy surrounding the president of the Spanish soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, forcibly kissing star player Jenni Hermoso on live television, has brought systemic sexism in women’s soccer into the spotlight.

In interviews with The New York Times, women involved in Spanish soccer revealed over a decade of gender-based discrimination, including bedtime checks and orders to leave hotel doors ajar at night. One high-ranking official resigned, feeling her hiring was merely for appearance. Veronica Boquete, a former national team captain, recalled her predecessor telling players, “What you really need is a good man and a big penis.”

The issues go beyond Mr. Rubiales and predate his tenure, with players demanding higher wages, contracts that continue during maternity leave, and access to the same resources as male players. They are discussing the possibility of a strike, as the minimum wage for women in the sport is significantly lower than their male counterparts.

Mr. Rubiales, facing suspension by FIFA, has not responded to interview requests, and the soccer federation declined to answer questions. While players call for his removal, they also acknowledge that deeper changes are needed to address the sexism embedded in Spanish soccer.

Ana Muñoz, the former vice president for integrity at the soccer federation, revealed that her resignation was prompted by a lack of power and inability to address integrity issues within the organization.

As the professional women’s soccer season begins in Spain, negotiations about salaries and working conditions are ongoing, with a potential strike looming if no agreement is reached.

Re-reported from the article originally published in The New York Times

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