Amanda Gutiérrez, president of FUTPro: “CREC Coworking is our coworking of trust”
This coming weekend begins the Primera Iberdrola, the First Division of Women’s Football in Spain. On September 11, two Catalan teams like Levante Las Planas and Futbol Club Barcelona will face each other to start the league with a victory. However, a competition with conditions for their players that still leave much to be desired.
And there is still a long way to go to equalize the men’s and women’s competitions. To this end, FUTPro has been created, the union formed and led by women to defend the rights of female players competing in Spain. And CREC Coworking will try to be part of the change.
“CREC Coworking is our coworking of confidence: You are moved by the project of the female soccer players’ union”
How was FUTPro created and what is your connection to soccer?
Amanda: My link to the world of sports is mainly that I have played soccer all my life. But since I always knew that as a woman I couldn’t make a living from soccer, I studied a career. In my case, it was law and I specialized in labor law. After entering more and more into the world of sports law, I decided to create my own law firm specialized only in sportswomen. This way I was able to get to know many of the female soccer players in the Spanish League until one day they decided to meet with me. Then they told me that they had decided to create a union and had thought of me to organize it.
After helping them with all the paperwork, we saw that it was not possible for an active player to be the president. So they asked me to be the president of FUTPro. I accepted because it was a great opportunity for me and it also allowed me to help them with my knowledge as a woman and as a footballer.
And in December 2021 you won the elections in an unexpected way…
A: Yes, we wanted to found the union little by little, with a good base, to talk to all the players to tell them about the project… But it was leaked that we were in this process and from then on speculation began. So we decided to hold a press conference in December 2021 where we announced our foundation.
The next day, the players told me that the clubs and the Spanish Footballers’ Association were calling elections, so it was time to decide what to do. We had just been born, we had no structure… But we fought to participate. We asked the AFE to postpone the elections a bit to prepare them better, and they denied us. And in the end we had no choice but to participate under those conditions. Against all odds, we won. Less than a month after we were born, we became the majority soccer players’ union.
“Against all odds, we won. Less than a month after we were born, we became the majority soccer players’ union”
What is your main mission right now? How many members do you have?
A: The first thing we had clear in FUTPro were two objectives: 1: To improve the conditions of the players of the Spanish National Team. And 2: The Collective Bargaining Agreement. The first, in the short term, we have already achieved it. The second remains. But FUTPro is only dedicated to women’s soccer, so we are not only going to cover the National Team or the First Division.
We will represent all categories, both amateur and non-professional. In addition, we would also like to be able to help federations in other countries. We are ambitious and want to help any female soccer player, whatever her level.
Speaking of your historic agreement with the national team… How do you value it and what impact will it have?
A: I value it very positively because we came from practically nothing: the players were paid very little, with fixed allowances that did not go up, few image rights… This agreement, on the other hand, is very complete. It improves the friendly matches – where they are paid the same as the men – improves the training camps, which are also the same as for the boys, and improves the image rights.
That does not mean that there are no things left to improve. This agreement is historic because they are now treated as professionals, but we came from nothing. Now, we have a winning national team and that also helps when negotiating. There is no ceiling.
“Our two objectives: to improve the conditions of the Spanish National Team players and to have a Collective Bargaining Agreement. The first, in the short term, we have already achieved. The second remains”
Do you think it can be applied in other countries and can you help other federations?
A: It depends. There are countries where, in fact, they are already even better off, like in the United States, where they are paid the same as men. But yes, of course. We also want to be an example for other federations that perhaps have not been able to advance. So it is very important to continue working along these lines.
What is the status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the professional league?
A: The truth is that it is at a standstill. The new League has asked time to all the Unions to us to finish being formed. It has to be constituted at internal level, it has to establish new bases, to revise image rights… And then they will meet with us. We are worried because the time passes, the League begins already and we have not begun to meet. But we are already seeing what we can do if this continues.
Salary, talent drain and maternity are three key issues. Are they also stalled?
A: Of course, with the current situation they are at a standstill. Currently, female players have a salary of €16,000 a year, but they are allowed to lower it to €12,000 by playing with part-time contracts. So, there are part-time contracts but this is clearly unfeasible. We cannot allow this in a professional league. This obsolete agreement causes a drain of talent, as many players are forced to look for a living outside. Renowned players are leaving for leagues such as the English league that are much more advanced.
Finally, maternity is another key issue that is not well resolved. We need to take advantage of the fact that we have an all-women’s convention to address these specific issues.
In the rise of women’s soccer… What role do you think Barcelona is playing?
A: I think Barcelona is being very important for the growth of women’s soccer. In addition, in Catalonia there are many players registered, which shows that girls and women have a lot of interest. Besides, as is well known, Barça has invested a lot in it.
The other day I read in a study that women’s soccer is worth about 3 million euros a year. So… Don’t you think that clubs like Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Athletic Club, Real Sociedad… Can’t spend 3 million euros on their women’s teams? Of course they can. It’s less than what they pay for the transfer of any male footballer.
Barça has done it and look what they have achieved: being the best team in Europe, helping a Catalan player like Alexia Putellas to be Ballon d’Or and filling the Camp Nou twice.
“FUTPro we are being a reference not only in soccer, also in other sports. But we need support and help”
Since you’re talking about investments… Is it possible to contribute to FUTPro without belonging to the sector?
A: That’s a good question. FUTPro is a players’ association and we want to change our current reality. We are being a reference not only in soccer, but also in other sports. But we need support and help. We have just been born and in that short time we have already achieved many things, but we need more.
Things like what you have done by giving us your spaces for our meetings helps us a lot to grow faster, to have more presence, etc. But we need more things: travel, accommodation… We have a lot of expenses since we are present at a national level. And many companies can join and collaborate.
As of today, you are collaborating as a trusted coworking and AXA Exclusiv, our main official sponsor. From there, we continue looking for those supports.
What led you to count on CREC Coworking to move forward with your project?
A: I knew you because before I became the president of FUTPro I was looking for a coworking space and I loved your philosophy. We had many coworking options but I really liked the way you welcomed us. You are moved by the project, and that is what we are looking for from the union.
There are other companies that maybe collaborate, give you something… But they don’t really care about what we do. This has not been the case with you. You want to know about us, you dedicate your time to us to know what we are working on… And we really like to approach collaboration in this way.
And speaking about philosophy… CREC is promoting CREC Dona. How do you value this kind of initiatives? What do you think they should contribute?
A: I am also an entrepreneur and I have worked (and work) for a long time as a freelancer. In my case, as a lawyer. To be able to count on a group of women who are in the same situation as you, who already have experience, who have already learned their lesson… Or simply to listen, is already an added value.
Entrepreneurship is very lonely, and an initiative like CREC Dona reminds you that you are not alone. When you want to fight for something you can do it alone, but you have a much better chance if you do it well surrounded. In fact, count me in as soon as CREC Dona is up and running!