Spanish referees reach deal to end strike, paving way for women's league to start

Spain's new professional women's league will finally get to start after a deal was struck to end a strike by the referees who demanded better wages and work conditions, the Spanish football federation said Wednesday.

The federation said a "historic" agreement with the government's main sports body will allow the women referees to gain professional status.

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The season had been scheduled to kick off earlier this month, but was delayed after refereeing teams did not show up.

This will be the first season of a fully professional women's league in Spain, after its players campaigned for years for better working conditions and pay.

The referees and referee assistants, who are all women, complained their own concerns had not been addressed by the new women's league.

The women's league had put the blame on the federation and government officials in charge of sports policy.

The referees complained they only made €320 and assistants €160 per game.

Under the new agreement, referees will earn €1666 per game. Assistants will earn €1066 per game and fourth officials will be paid €250 for each fixture.

Despite the increase, the Liga Femenina said the agreed wages are much lower than what the Spanish FA and the referees had initially requested -- to be paid a similar amount to referees in Spain's men's second division, LaLiga Smartbank.

"For the Liga Femenina and its clubs that would have meant €5m spent on refereeing per season, that is 70% of our income generated from TV rights," a league statement said.

"Faced with this position that is far removed not only from the reality of women's football, but also from the socioeconomic context that the country is going through, the Liga Femenina has always been firm in its defence of a project that is sustainable over time and that, above all, respects the work and effort of so many people who fought for this project."

Barcelona, the 2021 Champions League winners, have won the Spanish league for the past three seasons.

Information from ESPN's Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.