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This sports club has sparked a sexist row after giving a vibrator to its female champion

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Pip Cook
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The Squash Oviedo club in Spain has sparked outrage after giving its female champions sexist gifts to accompany their trophies

From massively unequal pay to sexist advertising and abuse, the sporting world is a tough enough playing field for women without their achievements being mocked by men. 

But officials at a sports club in Spain seem to have had a total sense of humour bypass when they decided to gift a female player with a vibrator after she won a local championship. 

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The Squash Oviedo club in Spain has been widely criticised as sexist after awarding its top female players with prizes including a vibrator, hair removal wax and a kit to treat foot calluses alongside their trophies in the recent Asturias championship. And, surprise surprise, their male counterparts didn’t receive any such ‘gifts’.

An image of the prizes was posted on Instagram by local radio show Ganamos Con Ellas (We Win With Women), which described them as “degrading, shocking, harmful, inconceivable but sadly real.”

The outraged winners have since written to their local federation to complain about their treatment, criticising the club for being sexist. In a statement to the BBC, the competition winner Elisabet Sadó said “We were very surprised, very shocked. We think it’s very sexist.”

“We wanted to explain it to everybody because we think…there’s a lot of discrimination…[against women in sport] and things have to change,” Ms Sadó added. 

Ms Sadó, alongside fellow winners Olaya Fernandez Lence, Marina Arraiza Mier and Cristina Barandica Fernandez, returned the prizes to the local federation alongside the letter of complaint, and officials at the club have since stepped down over the incident. A statement signed by the squash club’s president Nacho Manzano and acting president Barbara Fernandez said “we understand the reaction and deeply regret this unacceptable incident.”

“The club reiterates its apologies to players, the federation and people or entities offended by the discomfort caused by inappropriate gifts and that should never have been delivered,” he added.

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This isn’t the first time officials in Spain have come under fire for sexism in women’s sport. In 2014, there was a public outcry from the country’s female athletes criticising the European Handball Federation regulations the forced them to wear skimpy bikinis during matches, accusing sports officials of using their bodies to “lure people to the sport”. And, in 2015, 23 football players from the national women’s team published a letter calling for an end to discrimination against the women’s game. 

Ms Sadó, who was given the vibrator, said she and her fellow competitors hope the incident would get people across Spain discussing sexism in sport. “I think the important thing is that there is a public debate and laws in Spain and more protection so women can practice sport”, she said. 

Images: Getty

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