Spain fines its soccer federation for not having harassment protocol in place at Women’s World Cup

FILE - Demonstrators shouts slogans during a protest against the President of Spain's soccer federation Luis Rubiales and to support Spain's national women's soccer player Jenni Hermoso in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. The Spanish soccer federation and Barcelona soccer club have been fined an undisclosed sum by Spain’s labor ministry for not meeting workplace regulations regarding gender equality. The ministry says that the federation did not have the required gender equality plan or sexual harassment protocols in place when Spain won last year's Women's World Cup. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

FILE – Demonstrators shouts slogans during a protest against the President of Spain’s soccer federation Luis Rubiales and to support Spain’s national women’s soccer player Jenni Hermoso in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. The Spanish soccer federation and Barcelona soccer club have been fined an undisclosed sum by Spain’s labor ministry for not meeting workplace regulations regarding gender equality. The ministry says that the federation did not have the required gender equality plan or sexual harassment protocols in place when Spain won last year’s Women’s World Cup. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Spanish soccer federation and Barcelona soccer club have been fined an undisclosed sum by Spain’s labor ministry for not meeting workplace regulations regarding gender equality.

The ministry said Wednesday that the federation, along with Barcelona and two second-division clubs, failed to meet regulations obliging workplaces with at least 50 employees to have “equality plans” in place.

The ministry said in an email to The Associated Press that it ordered an inspection of clubs with women’s soccer teams and the national soccer federation after the federation president caused an international uproar when he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso during the trophy presentation at last year’s Women’s World Cup. He has since lost his job and now faces trial for sexual assault.

The inspection found that the federation had also failed to have a working protocol to handle cases of sexual harassment, as required by law, at the time of the incident.

“We sent our world champions (to the World Cup) without an equality plan and without harassment protocols, which is very serious,” Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz told Spain’s National Radio. “(With these fines) we are sending a strong message that this has to change. There is no place for sexism in sports.”

Spain’s players boycotted their national team for a month after the World Cup until the federation agreed to overhaul the way it ran the women’s team.

The ministry did not disclose the sum of the fines. But the maximum fine for not having an equality plan or a sexual harassment protocol is 7,500 euros ($8,100) each.

The federation said in a statement that it has had a plan for gender equality since 2022. It added it has also recently created a department of equality and said that it currently “complies with all regulations” in this regard.

Of the 16 clubs inspected, Barcelona and second-tier Catalan clubs Espanyol and Europa were found to not have proper equality plans. They did have sexual harassment protocols in place.

Barcelona said that it “rejected any statement that put in doubt the historic commitment that the club has with gender equality policies.” It said that it has had an equality plan in place since 2013, and that at the time of the inspection by the ministry it was working on updating its plan.

Barcelona’s women’s team won the Champions League last season and provided the backbone of players to Spain’s World Cup-winning side, including Ballon d’Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas.

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