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Barça defend gender equality policies after labour agency fine

Barcelona have rejected doubts cast on their commitment to gender equality policies after being fined an undisclosed sum by Spain’s labour ministry for not meeting workplace regulations.

Spain’s vice president and labour minister Yolanda Díaz said on Wednesday that Barça — along with the Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] and two other lower-league clubs — failed to meet regulations obliging workplaces with at least 50 employees to have “equality plans” in place.

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In a statement in response, Barça insisted they have had an equality plan in place since 2013 and said that, at the time of the inspection by the ministry, they were working on updating said plan.

“It is also incorrect to state that protocols for sexual harassment do not exist,” the Catalan club added. “We have, since 2020, had a protocol for the prevention and approach to sexual harassment for reasons of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“The club have not been penalised for wage divergence, either. We have not been notified of any non-compliance related to wage differentials and consequently there is no penalisation for the club in this matter.”

The statement went on to say that Barça are “a pioneer in the world of sport in relation to policies of equality between men and women.”

Barça have strongly backed their women’s team in recent years, winning the Champions League last season for a second time and providing the backbone of players to the Spain side which won the World Cup and, more recently, the UEFA Women’s Nations League.

They have also won Liga F in each of the last four seasons, with midfielders Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas sharing the last three Ballon d’Or awards between them.

The ministry first ordered an inspection of 16 clubs with women’s football teams and the RFEF last August after the federation’s former president, Luis Rubiales caused an international scandal when he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso during the trophy presentation after the Women’s World Cup.

Rubiales has since lost his job, been banned from football by FIFA for three years and now faces trial for sexual assault.

Díaz said the inspection also found that the RFEF did not have the appropriate protocol in place, as required by a 2020 law, at the time of the Rubiales incident.

“We sent our world champions [to the World Cup] without an equality plan and without harassment protocols, which is very serious,” Díaz told reporters on Wednesday.

“[With these fines] we are sending a strong message that this has to change. There is no place for sexism in sports.”

Neither Díaz nor the ministry disclosed the sum of the fines, but the maximum fine for not having an equality plan or a sexual harassment protocol is €7,500.

Of the other clubs inspected, second-tier side Espanyol and fourth division team Europa were found to not have proper equality plans. They did have sexual harassment protocols in place.

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