On the walls of one of the local changing rooms of the Johan Cruyff Stadium you can read feminized parts of the hymn of the FC Barcelona. “Totes unides fem força” appeals to the participation of women in their history and gives female footballers an exclusivity in the space they previously shared with Barça B and men’s grassroots football. So requested María Teixidor (Barcelona, 1975), head of the women’s team for the three most successful seasons (2018-2020) of the first Spanish club that has reached the European elite.
“When it started to design, I insisted that it have specific costumes for them. They should have their space, and we decorated it with inspiring phrases. He is challenging us, he is telling us that we are part of this history and not only of its social mass. They ask us to jump onto the pitch, show off and defend the same shield as them, “explains the former Barça executive,” he said in April. “It is about doing small actions in all areas.”
First sports director
The name of María Teixidor is linked to the professionalization of FC Barcelona, the first Spanish club to play in the final of the Champions League (2019) and in supporting the work of its footballers, whom the club considers 100% workers since 2015, with the entry of the Board of Directors of Josep María Bartomeu. Since then, the twelfth woman to serve as a board member in the history of a club founded in 1899, she set out to continue breaking down obstacles.
A member since she was 16 years old and a fan since she was very little her father took her to the Camp Nou, she always wondered where women were represented. «I remember opening the history books and questioning his absence. Every now and then a Marie Curie would appear, but they were sparkles, very rare things. And as a fan of football and Barça, I was surprised that reality was not reflected in this area either. Then comes the fact check. ‘
Her turning point was the labor market and motherhood. “I had two daughters and I noticed that the gender roles that have been assigned to us are still very present and that culturally they have led us to certain occupations without allowing us or thinking about our full potential because we had no references.” From that experience, María Teixidor wanted to claim her space in the first place, occupying management positions, and open the way to other women.
“Our responsibility is to open doors”
After three years at the club and being named the team’s first sports director in 2018, Teixidor approached the lives of female footballers to learn about their history and promote their concerns. «I saw that, despite all the difficulties, they had fought for that dream together with their families. From there I see myself with the responsibility of opening doors and teaching paths, to shake hands and accompany. This could not end here.
He began by speaking individually with some of them, especially those who were close to retirement and were considering their role in an uncertain career future after years of working in an amateur environment. “They thought they had to dedicate themselves to what they had studied for. They had dedicated their entire lives to sport, they have privileged knowledge, and they could be a multiplier element in sports management, where they can add value and help future generations.
From his position, he appealed to the protagonists to become aware of the moment they live. “Perhaps we have not sufficiently integrated diversity at all levels and the world is asking us for more things, breaking a compartmentalized, patriarchal and hierarchical structure and thinking that life is interdependence, relationship, adding different visions to generate tools for the future. We must visualize the objective, and those of us who can begin to see it have the obligation to transfer it to the others ».
During these last three seasons, Teixidor encouraged women to be in the forefront of the club, but not only in its social mass or in its women’s team. «Sometimes, due to dynamics or habit, we work in silos and the message does not take depth. My job was to generate dialogues and integrate visions and that we be insistent in putting that layer of feminine gaze in all the things we do.
How it generated social impact
When, as a board of directors, he took the reins of the Barcelona Women, perceived a good sports structure and a professional treatment for the soccer players, but when observing the phenomenon, he understood that they had to work in different areas to boost it. «It becomes one of our axes of government. We recovered the culé woman and we worked so that the feminine was not a section, but a reality that was in all our thoughts ».
For this development, it was necessary to generate transversal actions so that the message had depth. “For example, once we invited female doctors or physiotherapists to talk about health in sport, and one of them drew the attention of our medical team and joined it. When we talk about brands, we invite branding specialists who tell us about the possibilities for development. We did everything with a feminine perspective».
In the sports part, he came to the conclusion that by giving better conditions to the soccer players they could go very far. «We verify that if the hours are optimal for their bodies, they have specialized medical attention, you take their physiology into account and do not treat them from the parameters of men, when you give them the nutrition they need … the change is enormous. It is not magic, it is applying rules that we already know ».
He realized this when they began to compete in Europe and to see teams like Olympique de Lyon, seven times Champion champion, with players with very striking physiques. “They were square and had a very high rhythm, it was evident that they took years of knowledge and investment. It’s just applying what works: resources. Where would we be if throughout humanity we had dedicated the same to women?»
100% professional future
Teixidor is sure that the future of football passes through a mixed model, in which men and women compete together and equally. “Football began to be broadcast on public television, a product was generated. We have decided as a society to invest a lot in their development, in giving them the best conditions. Nobody has told me that we have a limit. When we have given the same conditions to women, they have been planted in a Champions League final earlier than planned.
This, he assures, must be linked to an education where minors perceive this egalitarian reality. One of his measures as a Barça manager was include female soccer players in events traditionally performed by the men’s team, like the attendance to hospitals in the days of Kings. Along with Messi or Suárez, they appeared Vicky losada The Mapi Leon“The children, boys, saw you go in with them and they already knew them, they wanted photos to show their friends when they left the hospital,” she proudly recalls.
Soccer can be part of girls’ ideas and the possibility of growing with this goal begins to be real. If we don’t screw it up, they’ll have a horizon. The aspiration is that this social force remains strong enough to build a sustainable framework for the benefit of women’s development. The women’s team has taught me the full potential of sport as a transmitter of values and a tool that allows us to change the world in some way. We cannot waste it ».