MANCHESTER, England – By dropping the phrase “women’s football” from the name of its national team, the Spanish Football Federation hopes to show it has made a “conceptual change” in its approach to the sport.
It remains to be seen whether more countries will follow suit.
Spain took the step towards greater equality this week as part of an agreement between the governing body and its World Cup-winning team, which has been under discussion since former federation president Luis Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy ceremony as Spain did. was crowned world champion in Australia last month.
The name for the women’s team traditionally included the phrase ‘de fútbol femenino’ – translated as ‘women’s football’. In the future, the men’s and women’s national teams will both be officially known as “Selección Española de fútbol” or “the Spain National Football Team.”
“More than a symbolic change, we want this to represent a conceptual shift, and the recognition that football is football no matter who plays it,” said the federation’s interim president Pedro Rocha.
European football’s governing body, UEFA, has previously held informal discussions about how countries could tackle such naming issues, but no official proposal has been made.
Other countries, such as England and the United States, have created parity in names by calling them the men’s and women’s national teams.
But there is less equality when it comes to leading tournaments.
The elite men’s competition of European club football is simply called the Champions League. However, the women’s equivalent is called the Women’s Champions League.
Similarly, next year’s men’s European Championship will be called Euro 2024. The 2025 women’s version will be called the Women’s Euro.
The recent Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand came months after the men’s edition, whose official name is simply Fifa World Cup.
There are similar examples in the United States, where the professional basketball leagues are the NBA for men and the WNBA for women.
The Spanish players have successfully brought about change after weeks of open rebellion. They demanded a thorough reform of the federation after the kiss of Rubiales and the reaction to his behavior.
With Spanish football in crisis, Rubiales eventually resigned and World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda was sacked.
On Wednesday, most Spanish players ended a boycott of the national team after the government intervened to help shape an agreement to make immediate changes at the federation.
The federation’s secretary general, Andreu Camps, who was considered close to Rubiales, was also relieved of his duties.
The reforms were intended as a way to further professionalize women’s football in the country and promote equal pay.
Although the World Cup highlighted the growing popularity of women’s football, problems within the game remain.
The English players had also had a row with the country’s federation, the Football Association, over bonuses and commercial agreements in the run-up to the tournament.
Lioness captain Millie Bright said on Thursday that an agreement has now been reached.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, England and Arsenal player Leah Williamson also called for equality in sport.
“I think when we say (we want a) level playing field, we want to have the same opportunities with the same respect to try to make the game what it is,” she said.