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Spanish women’s football players have decided to return to the pitch after temporarily halting their strike which began on Saturday.
The players’ union (AFE) announced on Monday evening that following further mediation, it had agreed to interrupt the strike and play again, giving clubs a deadline of Dec. 20 to sign a collective agreement.
A recent proposal by Spain’s ministry of work that the players had accepted but the clubs had not, should be, according to the AFE, the basis for a new collective agreement.
An AFE statement said: “The decision by the footballers to stop the competition for the ninth round of the league has been crucial to bring the two parties together so that the negotiating table of the collective agreement continues to work to reach a beneficial agreement for all parties.”
The clubs have so far refused to agree to the terms set by the players after 13 months of negotiations.
Despite mediation from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Spain’s Sports Council (CSD) and the country’s ministry of work, all efforts to prevent the strike had previously failed.
The players are demanding improved conditions and pay while the clubs have maintained that they cannot afford to meet the terms and argue that some of the 16 teams that compose the Primera Iberdrola would go out of business.
All eight games of last weekend’s round nine were not played in what was the first-ever strike since the league’s creation in 1988.
“The strike, followed by the majority of players, reached its aim which was to draw attention to the problem that our colleagues have,” AFE said.
Players were willing to compromise and accept a minimum annual wage of €16,000 and not the €20,000 they originally demanded as part of the proposal made by the country’s ministry of work.
The biggest stumbling block was whether to consider players as full-time professional players and not employed on a part-time basis, as clubs want.
Players also want to be covered in the event of an injury and pregnancy.
Spanish broadcasting group Mediapro, which holds the broadcasting rights for 12 of the 16 teams, had offered €1.5m to finance the wage shortfall and end its exclusive contract while still retaining weekly coverage on Gol.
However, the RFEF would only agree to a deal that saw it reclaim all commercial rights from the clubs (ACFF) in return for their financial contribution of €1.15 million to help pay the salaries of women’s top-flight players.
Clubs would have to end the impasse which had prevented the women’s top-flight matches being broadcast on television in Spain this season.