The first round of Spain’s new professional women’s soccer league was canceled on Saturday after female referees went on strike demanding professional status and pay on par with the men’s La Liga.
Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid were among the teams scheduled to play Saturday in the first season of a fully professional women’s league in Spain after years of campaigning for better working conditions and wages.
Both teams released statements saying that their respective first round matches were suspended 30 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time “due to the non-appearance of the officiating team”.
The referees and assistant referees, who went on strike Thursday, said the league has not acted on their concerns and they will not referee any top-flight matches “under the current working and economic conditions.”
“Referees want to provide football with the best possible service, which necessarily means having minimum working conditions comparable to those of a refereeing institution for men’s professional competitions,” the statement said.
The league (LPFF) responded by stating that they “do not accept blackmail” and that all teams will be on the field for their matches on Saturday and Sunday. “In the event of non-appearance of judges and assistants, the LPFF will proceed with the filing of appropriate complaints,” the message says.
Barcelona, who won the Champions League in 2021won the Spanish championship in the last three seasons.