Female squash players slam event for sexist gifts

The female winners of the Asturias Squash Championship were awarded a vibrator, body hair removal wax and a kit to remove foot calluses as additional prizes, while the male winners of the championship received only trophies for their victories.
The female winners of the Asturias Squash Championship were awarded a vibrator, body hair removal wax and a kit to remove foot calluses as additional prizes, while the male winners of the championship received only trophies for their victories.PHOTO: GANAMOSCONELLAS/INSTAGRAM

OVIEDO • A Spanish squash club was criticised after presenting female winners of a championship a vibrator, body hair removal wax and a kit to remove foot calluses, sparking a debate about sexism in sport.

Squash Oviedo, organiser of the Asturias Squash Championship, had reportedly apologised but also insisted that there was no sexist intent behind the additional prizes on top of the trophies handed out.

However, the Asturias Squash Federation strongly rebutted those claims on Monday, as the male winners of the championship received only trophies for their victories.

"It's the height of sexism. We had no idea the women were going to receive these gifts," said spokesman Maribel Toyos.

"It makes no sense for the club to apologise but at the same time say the gifts are not sexist. We feel terribly ashamed by what's happened."

The top women players lodged a complaint to the federation following the conclusion of the championship, which prompted three resignations of officials linked to the annual event, including that of president Nacho Manzano.

Winner Elisabet Sado, who received a trophy and a vibrator while the players in second, third and fourth won an electronic foot file or hair removal wax, told the BBC that "things have to change".

"We were very surprised, very shocked. We think it's very sexist," said Sado, 37, once ranked as high as world No. 196. "We wanted to explain it to everybody because we think there's a lot of discrimination (against women in sport).

"I think probably they just wanted to be funny or different.

"I think the important thing is that there is a public debate about laws in Spain and more protection so women can practise sport."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2019, with the headline 'Female squash players slam event for sexist gifts'. Print Edition | Subscribe