If a young child went to their football sticker album one day and couldn't find one of Messi, Iniesta, Griezmann or Isco, they would think it very strange, to say the least. Can you imagine the facial expression that would greet any parent who told their son or daughter it was because they had been forgotten? It's simple: it would be the same expression faced by others who tried to explain why women are not taken into account. This is happening, though, despite being well into the 21st century.
Still, major changes start with small details and with this in mind Malaga supporter Íñigo Benedicto started an initiative a few months ago which has now spread all around Spain, gained support from some important people and more than 38,000 signatures in favour: to create a sticker album for the Iberdrola women's football league, which is the highest category.
This engineer says the idea arose because of his seven-year-old daughter, June: "She isn't really aware of these things in general yet, but she asked why there are no stickers for women footballers, if they are equal to men," he explains.
Thinking about this in terms of equality, Íñigo joined forces with María Vázquez, a mother from Badajoz, who had created an entire collection of stickers of the teams from the last season and has also designed some of Malaga for the women players themselves. They proved so popular that Iberdrola began to give her some support, by providing her with the images to complete the stickers.
"I'm getting a lot of support. People are congratulating me on what I'm achieving, including at my local school. My daughter told her teacher about it, and she played videos of the players in class so the pupils could see them," she says.
More than just pictures
It is a fact that society is seeing things differently nowadays, and it is also a fact that more needs to be done to improve it. "Four years ago Mari Ángeles López, a woman from Valencia, launched a similar campaign but at that time nobody took any notice," says Íñigo. Now, an increasing number of children are fans of women footballers. June is one of them: she likes the Malaga goalkeeper, Chelsea.
"I know about this initiative and I support it," says Chelsea. "It's just a small thing and some people might think it stupid, but we don't. We consider ourselves equal to men's football and we want children to know about us." And women's football isn't gender specific. "These initiatives aren't just for girls. A lot of boys are collecting them as well," says Malaga forward Adriana Martín. "In Spain there are top quality players and a lot of girls dream of becoming professional footballers. Nothing that supports women's football is stupid".
Nor is it just a case of simple stickers. "It is a way of getting women players in Spain known," says Ruth Acedo. "This is important".