LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Barcelona football club’s first mixed-sex tour got off on the wrong foot when it emerged that male players flew business class while women players were relegated to the back of the plane.
Barcelona said the first mixed-sex tour in the club’s centennial history showed its commitment to women’s sports but the difference in seating arrangement raised a few eyebrows.
Images posted online showed the women sitting in economy seats on the flight bound for Portland in the United States on Tuesday while the men from one of the world’s top teams were in business class.
The disparity drew criticism on social media, with some supporters noting that even male athletes from the second squad were treated better than female players from the first team.
“Yeah - the men’s team is mostly players from the Barça B men’s team, but the senior women’s team gets Economy!” tweeted @BarçaWomen, a supporter-run account.
A spokesman for the club said the charter flight was booked before it was decided the women’s team would join the tour and not enough business class seats were arranged.
He said no footballer complained and the female players would also be in business class when the teams fly to Los Angeles on Thursday.
“It’s clear this was a logistical issue,” Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives told a press conference on Thursday, adding to his knowledge no other European team had ever organized a mixed-sex tour.
Barcelona women’s team player Alexia Putellas defended the club, praising its commitment to women’s football.
“To travel with the first team and share the same facilities is synonymous with a good level,” she told Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org