LaLiga: In increasingly male-dominated world of football, Eibar CEO Patricia Rodriguez breaks the glass ceiling

Eibar's Patricia Rodriguez, the only female CEO at a top-tier LaLiga club, talks about the challenges of being a woman in the male-dominated world of football.

Amit Kamath October 14, 2018 17:40:56 IST

Eibar: "I never give up," says Patricia Rodriguez. She says this casually, even breaking into a smile right after saying it, but her tone reflects a fierce determination which propelled her to excel as the CEO of SD Eibar.

Patricia's is a rare story. In the testosterone-driven environment of top-level football, you would be hard-pressed to find too many women in top positions at football clubs around the world. After joining the club as Finance and Resources Manager in September 2014 from PwC, she worked her way up to her current position. She is, in fact, the only female CEO in LaLiga at the moment.

“In my first months, when I spoke, sometimes my opinion was not heard as much as that of my male counterparts. I had to make an effort to show people my work and achieve my targets at the club. I had to show that I can do the same amount of work or be better than my male counterparts," admits Patricia.

On being asked what challenges she faces at the job, she says, “Two years ago when I assumed this responsibility, it was a little strange. I think in the beginning women need to make more effort than a man. We need to show that you have the knowledge and can work as well as a man or better than men in some cases.

"At the beginning, it was not easy. But now I can say that all my colleagues behave normally with me — as they would behave with a male colleague. I am just another member of this organisation. Now it’s okay. But it is true that at the start it was not easy and that I needed to make an extraordinary effort to show that I am at the same level as my male peers," she adds.

Eibar has a refreshing 50 percent ratio of women in administrative positions. Until last year, their Marketing and Commercial Director was Gema Baque while their current Head of Communications is Arrate Fernandez. There are departments like marketing at the club where half of the members are women.

More importantly, the club also has a female president, Amaia Gorostiza, who has been part of the club since 2016. Her appointment to the top job broke the glass ceiling as she was the first female president ever at the tiny Basque club.

“Amaia is the perfect president. She’s kind and clever also. It’s amazing to work with her," gushes Patricia.

On being asked if the club would ever hire a female manager for the men's team, Eduardo Valdes, the club's International Business Development Coordinator, shrugs and says it's not his call to make.

But for a club whose motto is 'Another Football is Possible', even this would not be too implausible.

The writer is in Spain at the invitation of LaLiga

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