Maria Teixidor, lawyer, president of the Women and Business Commission – PIMEC and former director of FCB was one of the speakers at the last SC Trade Center Talks of the season which was called ‘You play like a girl’.
Since your time as a director of FC Barcelona, what were and what do you think are the main problems that women have to face?
From the point of view of the management or governance of sports institutions, we have a lack of representation in the field of power, which still prevents our voice from being heard where decisions are being made. I think this is an unresolved issue.
You are also part of PIMEC. Does what happens in sports management also translate into the business world?
This lack of representation is not exclusive to sports. I think it is in all institutions and I believe that the regulations that are being approved, which, in some way, are emphasizing the need to have more women in government, go in the right direction to give also in the business world this significant presence of women, which is also necessary.
What is missing in society so that women can have this representation in sports or in business?
We need to place and promote this change. Therefore, the legislative initiative is very important, but it has to go in close association with facts, by the consciousness that it is important and all the data and reports that have been prepared on the participation of women in government and in more equal and democratic companies are developed with better economic results.
As a matter of business efficiency, we should be very convinced that this is the right change. Yes, glass ceilings are being broken, yes, the whole issue of the women’s Barça, for example, which has led the whole issue of change in women’s soccer, has meant a very big change, but in reality, when you stop to compare this change, which is big, it is small.
Yes, it is true that it is a ‘big change is small’, as you say.
I have the feeling that we have put an important piece in the conversation in one of the sports that is a world leader in audiences. It’s estimated that 4 billion people in the world follow soccer and that’s half of the human population. It is therefore a very good channel for demonstrating change. For example, this summer’s controversy around the World Cup and the famous kiss has empowered many women in very diverse industries to claim their rights. I think this is very important because in the end it makes visible a possibility, which is to say stop, and it empowers many women to do the same in their areas.. This is the lesson that we must learn and that must inspire all women to demand effective equality.
Why did you decide to participate in these SC Trade Talks?
I was asked to do so, and in the end I really like to share experiences, and also with people like the ones I have today, because at last only by explaining to each other what we have experienced, what we see, what we desire and what we are working on, we can network and we can help each other to achieve real goals.
When you read the title of the speech ‘Do you play like a girl’, what did you think?
It is a mythical phrase that I also used in the first major conference we did around the issues of women’s soccer at Barça in 2018. In fact, I titled the presentation ‘It’s soccer and it’s feminine’ to claim that this kind of phrases we have to go eliminating them. And one of the reflections we were making then, and I think this phrase is also behind it, is that it depends on how you integrate these concepts, this will be a prejudiced phrase. So,if playing like a girl turns into playing like they do now, such us our senior national team winning World Cups, playing like a girl is a source of pride.
What do you think about this kind of initiatives that unite women and sport?
Necessary, very necessary! The United Nations has ruled it and it is one of the most important lines of work, for example, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a very powerful channel of transmission for the whole of society, so I think we should take advantage of it.
Have you ever been to the Trade before?
No, this is my first visit to the Trade, I didn’t know it, but the facilities are very good.
What is missing for women’s soccer to have the same audience levels as men’s soccer?
The only thing that needs to be done for the girls to be seen is to schedule them and they should be broadcasted on public television, without having to pay, and giving them maximum diffusion. If we think, and this is an argument that I have worked on a lot, and I have been repeating a lot in the audiovisual market, that it has to be generated. I believe that public television has to make a commitment to program soccer left, right and centre, and there has to be the right to do the same with women’s sports in order to consolidate audiences, which in the end is what this market is going to be able to generate.
Finally, are the rising generations more sensitive to women’s sports?
I think that the rising generations have it easier in terms of prejudice than the previous ones. That is to say, nothing happens if you say at home that you want to play soccer as a girl, or it doesn’t happen as much as it did before, and, therefore, there is an acceptance that allows you to develop. You also have some references that, in some way, are marking the path of possibilities. All this, together with the professionalization of clubs, leagues and more, also means that it cannot be a hobby, because sport does not have to be only professional, but if you want, and, if you have ambitions for a profession in this environment, you have this possibility, and I believe that girls today have a much more complete view of the possibilities that should allow them to develop better.