Rayo Vallecano’s players staged a 30-second protest at the start of today’s match vs. Real Madrid Femenino to highlight the poor working conditions that they’ve had to endure under club leadership.
Rayo’s footballers have been trying to bring attention to this problem for awhile.
This shouldn't pass people by. Rayo's players scheduled a press conference to denounce their club for not registering them with social security (a requirement) and providing poor working conditions.— Om I Have A Substack Arvind (@OmVAsports) August 19, 2021
I shall try to translate some of the key points. https://t.co/F7dI12mvTZ
In August, they held a press conference highlighting a number of issues that need to be addressed:
- The club had not registered the players with social security — a legal requirement.
- The players had been unable to speak with the president to voice their concerns.
- The players wanted access to their club’s gym, basic medical services, and good physiotherapy and equipment.
- The players had only been able to take one COVID-19 test since the beginning of preseason.
- The players had not been allowed to use the club’s parking lot like the men’s team.
In late September, news came out that the players could be living on the street because the club is declining to pay their rent (Rayo promised that they would).
RAYO FEMENINO— Matagigantes.NET (@matagigantesNET) September 30, 2021
"Jugadoras del Rayo Femenino pueden acabar en la calle"
La situación en el @RayoFemenino es insostenible.
El club no se está haciendo cargo del pago del alquiler de los pisos de las jugadoras de fuera de Madrid.https://t.co/4E8XoQHQVN
The issue of inadequate medical support was once again raised:
Rayo don't have a physio. If one of their players suffers a serious injury, they go to the opposing team's medical staff for help. You can't make this up. pic.twitter.com/OeCsHX28D3— Om I Have A Substack Arvind (@OmVAsports) October 4, 2021
And, today, Rayo’s players highlighted their plight by declining to play for 30 seconds to start the match. Real Madrid obliged and also stood still in solidarity.
En señal de protesta por la grave situación que viven, nuestras compañeras del @RayoFemenino se han plantado sin jugar durante los primeros 30 segundos de su partido ante el @realmadridfem.#UnidasSomosMásFuertes ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/HKRaIpTeMn— AFE (@afefutbol) November 6, 2021
After the game, players like Pilar García took to Twitter to more formally voice their complaints:
Nuestra situación laboral sigue sin ser digna de un equipo de Primera División. #UnidasSomosMásFuertes pic.twitter.com/G3imBqDnmI— Pilar García (@pilar_garcia4) November 6, 2021
Translation of key points:
- The players do not have basic sports equipment or a gym to train in.
- The players do not have medical services, a doctor, or a physiotherapist.
- The team does not have a delegate, which is necessary for the management of different daily aspects [added context: a delegate is an essential role that takes care of a wide range of bureaucratic procedures, from communicating substitutes to the referee during a match to managing transport].
- It is generally understood that you need to plan ahead with trips and also what the meals are going to be. It’s not right that the team doesn’t know about these logistics a day before traveling.
- There is no parking access for the team, which is provided to the men’s section.
- The club is not paying rent for players and some of them have been left to the street.
- The players do not receive payslips and always get paid a week after the end of the month, contravening Articles 29 and 30 of the Collective Agreement for Footballers of the First Division of women’s football. This issue has already been communicated to the club by the AFE (Association of Spanish Footballers) demanding immediate action. If this is not addressed, there is always the labor authority to go to.
Rayo’s fight for basic decency — not to mention the fulfillment of legal obligations — is just another example of what women’s footballers have to go through on a regular basis just to play football. However, their situation is also somewhat unique.
Rayo has an openly leftist fan culture and supporters have often criticized their president and leadership, which they feel directly contradicts the anti-fascist and social values of the club, especially in regard to Rayo Femenino.
Regardless of the politics at play, it is quite clear that Rayo Vallecano has declined to make good on required obligations and the women’s team deserves far better.