January 23, 2021

Television, key in the schism of women's football | sports

Television, key in the schism of women's football | sports

A television operator will be awarded on Thursday the contest in which they have auctioned for the first time the television rights of the First Division of women's football, the so-called Liga Iberdrola. However, the winner of the bid will be made with the aforementioned rights for the next three seasons in the midst of the uncertainty generated for the announcement of the Spanish Football Federation (FEF) to create a new model of competition and management, in addition to the existing one, operated economically by LaLiga through the Association of Women's Football Clubs (ACFF). The Federation proposes an Elite Division (16 teams) and a Division Promises (32 teams). In addition, this would be the competition that would give right to participate in the Women's Champions.

The schism is served and in full eruption. The first cracks have already appeared. Athletic, who together with Barcelona is the only club of the 16 of the Iberdrola League that is not part of the ACFF, announced in a statement that it is positioned on the federative side. "Athletic Club is present in the women's football committee of the RFEF and participated in the decision making [la creación del nuevo modelo de campeonato] represented by its president, Aitor Elizegi ", informed the Bilbao entity. From Barcelona talk about a change in the management model, but not the creation of a league parallel to the current. "We will always be in favor of the maximum professionalization of women's football and the Federation", they say from the Barça entity.

The new competitive model, voluntary registration, as announced by the FEF, must be approved in the federation assembly to be held in the first days of April. If the Spanish football assembly members give the green light to the federative proposal, women's football will be led to a strong division of unpredictable consequences. The clubs that compete under the current system have prepared their budgets to compete for titles, participate in the Champions or achieve promotions. In addition, there are current contracts with players and sponsors under the current competition and exploitation model.

Expanding business

In the background also emerges the negotiation of the first collective agreement of women's football, very dependent on the income that can generate the clubs through the sale of audiovisual rights. The commercialization of these is what has unleashed this new chapter of the eternal and fierce battle for the competitions between the Federation and LaLiga, embodied and amplified in the figure of their respective presidents, Luis Rubiales and Javier Tebas. Since he became president of the Federation, Rubiales tries to regain control and lost competences under the mandate of Ángel María Villar. Women's football, now in full expansion, is one of the territories that Rubiales aims to win back. According to sources consulted, the audiovisual rights of the Iberdrola League can be worth around three million euros per season. However, the growth of women's football can revalue them in the coming years.

The conflict broke out at the moment that the ACFF announced to the Federation that it would launch an auction to sell the television rights of the Liga Iberdrola for sale. The federative response was a refusal of the employers' initiative to consider that these rights belong to it because it is a non-professional competition over which it has the power to organize and develop it. The ACFF, on the other hand, relies on the fact that the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) ratified last July that the audiovisual rights belong to it and limited the possible actions of the Federation over them.

The ACFF already expressed in its statement last Tuesday that the federation proposal was not consulted. The clubs consider that the maneuver to create a new model of competition is the formula chosen to take away their audiovisual rights. The inscription in this new model of championship would require the cession of the same ones to the Federation.

The ACFF will announce on Thursday the operator that will broadcast the Iberdrola League as one more step of the road map marked in its development plan for women's football. Its members trust that everything will return to normal. But the battle to govern women's football has only just begun.

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