Alexia Putellas: Best player believes women’s football will be well respected in the world in five years

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She was the star player of a FC Barcelona Femení team that dominated Spain and Europe in 2021, and had already received the Women’s Ballon d’Or in November, which annually recognizes the best player in the world.

However, she didn’t let that success get to her head, and the 27-year-old Spain midfielder is still eager to add to her trophy cabinet.

“Really, I haven’t realized what happened yet,” she told CNN’s Becky Anderson in Dubai ahead of the awards ceremony on December 27. “And I don’t really want to because it’s a way to keep my motivation up and be better every day – and it doesn’t matter what we’ve been through, so we can go back and repeat it. . ”
It will be a difficult task to improve, let alone repeat, his accomplishments from last season. Putellas led Barca to an unprecedented treble by winning the Women’s Champions League, the Spanish League and the Spanish Cup.
Along the way, her side have been completely dominant, scoring 208 goals in the 2020/21 season and only conceding 25. The Zenith beat Chelsea 4-0 in May to capture the Women’s UCL for the first time. .

This season’s results have often been interpreted as rugby scores: 10-1 against Sevilla; 8-1 against Real Sociedad; 9-1 against Alavés; 8-0 against Villarreal; 6-0 against Juventus; 4-0 against Arsenal – and the list goes on.

Putellas attributes this sensational form to a belief in the team’s style of play and the time they’ve spent together.

“We are 100% convinced that this will lead us to success … all of it helps us achieve big goals.”

Wage gap “narrower” but still “missing”

the BlaugranaThe domination of s has been helped by the fact that the club clearly values ​​the Femení team, which turned professional in 2015.

According to its annual report, the club as a whole spent more than $ 8 million on salaries and other expenses for their women’s team in 2020/21. In August, for the first time in 40 years, the famous La Masia academy – whose graduates include football greats Lionel Messi, current Barça men’s coach Xavi and Andrés Iniesta – opened its doors to female students.

“Barça have created the structure of an elite women’s team, [at the] world, it can be self-sufficient, “Putellas said.” But I want to say that the investment and the bet, the belief in this project continued even when we couldn’t win the league, for example, or a international championship. “

This investment has indeed paid off. By qualifying for the Champions League this year, the team is guaranteed a payout of at least $ 452,000.

This payout has grown significantly since the team won all six of its group games. The winners of this year’s edition will take home $ 1.58 million from the final. The overall prize pool of $ 27 million for this season’s competition is four times the size of last year – a sign that women’s football is growing exponentially in Europe.

“They [Barcelona] treat me 100% like a footballer, sex doesn’t matter, “Putellas said.” Twenty years ago it wasn’t like now and I’m sure not even in 20 but in five years, that will change even more. The profession of footballer will be respected around the world, despite the different cultures that exist or the different religions. ”

Yet the gap between cash prizes and wages between male and female gambling is astronomical. The winner of this year’s Champions League men’s edition can expect to receive over $ 60 million as a minimum, before any of the win bonuses are paid out. Barca male legend and current PSG star Lionel Messi has received $ 167 million in each of his last four seasons at the club.
Putellas’ entire career has been spent in the heat of this heated global debate around equal rights between men and women in sport. The pay gap has been a particularly controversial topic, highlighted by American football player Megan Rapinoe. She is one of 28 current and former members of the United States Women’s National Team fighting for equal pay in an ongoing lawsuit against the American Football Federation.

“Each time we get closer, but he’s still missing,” Putellas said. “There is still a long way to go and now I know I have an important voice. In fact, that’s what I’m here for.”

Humble beginnings

Putellas grew up far from the glitz and glamor of an awards night in Dubai.

Born in Mollet del Vallès, on the outskirts of Barcelona, ​​her biggest supporter was her late father, a longtime supporter of the club she now plays for.

“The truth is what hurts me is that he couldn’t live with me everything that is happening to me now; playing with the club that we have always supported, and everything that is happening, titles. That’s what I pity. ”

Putellas controls the ball during a UEFA Women's Champions League game in December.

Fame hasn’t changed her and she still has the same friends where she grew up. They are not interested in football, nor in her career, which she sees as a big escape from football.

“They help me a lot and they help me to never forget where I came from and what I did to be where I am today.”

Putellas now regards her playing career as an example of what young girls can achieve, and the game itself as a “reflection of society”.

“I believe soccer is a way to end a lot of historical inequalities in women, or the way we see women,” she told CNN. “I only saw men playing football and being professional … as a spokesperson we can give a voice to women who want to [to play] and cannot because no one makes structures or teams. ”

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Reflecting on her own childhood and who inspired it, she said she “never stopped”.

She certainly didn’t in 2021. She finished the year with a hat-trick in her last game before taking a much-needed rest in Dubai during the club’s winter break.

Barca are on track for another award-winning season, and in 2022 they hope to make the people of Mollet del Vallès even more proud.


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