Should women's teams take up the same amount of column space as men's? Does there have to be some positive discrimination? Are sexist expressions still being used? How do you promote gender equality in sports? These questions and many more have led SUR to create an advisory committee in a bid to help promote equality in its sports coverage and across the newspapers.
Malaga captain, Adriana Martín; former Olympic athlete, Dana Cervantes; rugby referee, Alhambra Nievas; former basketball player, Mari Carmen Morales 'Largui'; and journalist Laura Pérez attended the committee's first meeting on Monday. Sole López, Rincón Fertilidad handball captain, couldn't attend because of personal reasons.
On behalf of SUR, editor-in-chief Manuel Castillo; local newsdesk editor, Ana Barreales; sports editor Sergio Cortés; and SUR.es editor Ester Requena joined the debate at the SUR offices in Malaga which focused on the way women's sports news is reported.
While it was roundly acknowledged that women's coverage had improved, Mari Carmen Morales insisted: “Men and women should have the same amount of space devoted to them in the media.”
Manuel Castillo said that “the aim has to be to reach this equality” but stressed that, as with all news, certain criteria always had to be applied.
How the news is reported
Dana Cervantes, as a former elite athlete, spoke from personal experience: “I was always given equal treatment by the federation, in championships, in prizes, in grants... the problems came afterwards when the reporting contained wrong information or focused much more on the personal angle than the results.”
Cervantes added: “There is a preconception that force and strength only exist in men's sports while women's sport is more a thing of beauty, a spectacle.”
Alhambra Nievas, who took part via conference call from Santander, said that while her experience with the press has been mostly positive, “a female athlete is often used as a sexual object to sell more newspapers and the media themselves should do more to denounce this sort of practice”.
Nievas also stressed that training at youth level was the most important thing, “showing that boys and girls can compete together”.
Journalist Laura Pérez agreed, adding that having female athletes was not enough and that schools and clubs needed to welcome female coaches and referees too.
Adriana, Malaga captain and top goalscorer, also stressed that clubs often prioritise their men's teams: “We have had difficulty even in finding somewhere to play.”