Female footballer Veronica Boquete has spoken out against the macho culture surrounding the game in Spain.
Boquete – aged 25 – has scored a remarkable 14 goals in 14 games for the Spanish woman's national side.
But in an interview with FIFA.com, the Galician striker has revealed how hard it was for her to make progress in her youth.
“We live in a macho country and that conditions us,” Boquete stated. “From an early age it is expected that boys do one thing and girls another.
“We need to educate people differently so that one day we can stop talking about the battle for equality – a day when it really does exist.
“Being a woman, I’ve felt discrimination since I was a very young. When I began playing the game as a six-year-old, there was a regulation preventing boys and girls from playing on the same team.
“So I used to regularly train with the boys, go to games with them and even put my kit on. But I then had to sit on the bench. I was still very young and didn’t understand why, but it was frustrating and left a mark on me.”
The former Espanyol and Philadelphia Independence forward, now with Tyrese FF in Sweden, divulged details of some of the abuse she was subjected to, and gave her thoughts on what changes should be made.
“The worst comments I used to hear came from the mothers of opposition boys. Not from the fathers, but the mothers. They were the most macho of all. Could it be because it was their sons who were being scored against and dribbled around and not their daughters?
“I just hope that the kind of things I faced become a thing of the past. It’s in schools and among families that work needs to be done. That’s where kids learn everything and where they spend most of their time.
“If equality is real and normal in those environments, then it will remain so for the rest of a person’s life in every environment.”