RFEF unveils new look for Spanish women’s league, Iberdrola extends backing

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has revealed its vision for a revamped women’s league, with energy company Iberdrola extending its backing for a further six seasons.

The RFEF has been seeking to overhaul the women’s game in Spain and today (Thursday) presented its plans, which will take effect from the 2019-20 season. The top tier will be entitled Primera Iberdrola, while the second division’s name will be changed from the Segunda División RFEF to the Reto Iberdrola.

The new Primera Iberdrola season will commence on September 7-8, with the RFEF setting out a goal under its new model of girls under 14 choosing football as their first sport in six years. To achieve this goal, the RFEF has specified that clubs competing in its competition must have at least three grassroots teams, either directly connected to them or affiliated.

In order to raise the visibility of its stars, the RFEF has also stated that Primera Iberdrola clubs are obliged to print the names of the players on their shirts. The Primera Iberdrola will consist of 16 clubs, with the Reto Iberdrola comprised of 32 teams split into two groups. The new model also includes the Copa de la Reina and for the first time for the women’s game, a Supercopa de España.

Having commenced its title sponsorship of the Primera División in 2016-17, Iberdrola has agreed a six-season extension to its contract running until 2024-25. In addition to the top tier, this backing will now extend to the Reto Iberdrola, Copa de la Reina and Supercopa de España. Iberdrola president Ignacio Galán said the extension has been signed to reinforce its position as the “main supporter of women’s sports”.

The RFEF has acted amid significant growth in interest for women’s football in Spain. A crowd of 60,739 watched Barcelona beat Atlético Madrid 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano in March, the highest-recorded crowd for a domestic women’s game in Europe.  The previous record was held by Athletic Bilbao, after 48,121 attended their cup game against Atlético at the San Mamés Stadium in January.

“We’ve made an effort and we want to improve towards equality,” RFEF president Luis Rubiales said, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. “Games will be played on Saturdays and Sundays, with nothing on Fridays nor Mondays. The players will wear their names on their shirts, the games will have fourth officials and all clubs are obliged to have three youth sides.”