FEATURE | Guadalupe Porras Ayuso – Spain’s trailblazing lineswoman

Last October, Spanish lineswoman Guadalupe Porras Ayuso became the first female from Spain to be a part of any refereeing team for a men’s European club competition.

Born in Badajoz, Extremadura, she has had to wait a long time before being asked to run the line in the Europa League match between LASK and Ludogorest.

“I feel very satisfied. This appointment means I have achieved another career goal. I face it with great desire and the same enthusiasm which I bring to my job,” she told the Spanish federation.

“All the girls who are starting out can see that you can achieve any aim that you set yourself. It’s a very difficult world, but you can achieve anything with hard work and sacrifice,” she added.

And it is fair to say that the last few seasons have seen a recent upsurge in her career.

Indeed, the trailblazer has had a quick turnaround in her domestic career in Spain, despite running the line in international matches since 2014. From Newport to Kazakhstan, Ayuso has travelled far and wide in her career thus far.

And after spending several seasons as lineswoman in the men’s Segunda División throughout 2017 and 2018, her debut in LaLiga finally came in August 2019 when she was picked for that season’s Mallorca-Eibar match in the opening round of the campaign.

Since then, Ayuso has been appointed as the first or second assistant referee for 32 top-flight matches, including Atlético Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla a fortnight ago.

The 34-year-old was also part of the matchday delegation for Real Madrid’s 1-0 home victory at the Santiago Bernabéu against Atlético at the start of last year.

Her most recent LaLiga involvement was Osasuna’s 3-1 victory over Granada on Sunday.

In December, Ayuso was also put forward by the Spanish football federation as their representative for the 2023 Women’s World Cup alongside Marta Huerta de Aza.

And Ayuso’s presence in the game helps, especially in a country in which gender inequality is still an issue, both in and out of the football pitch. In November 2019, just a few months after Ayuso’s debut in the Mallorca-Eibar encounter, El País reported the vicious sexist abuse that a female referee called Alexandria García received in a junior match in El Escorial.

This weekend, in a Third Division match between Llerenense and Cacereno, the home side lost 4-0, but it was one goal which made national headlines.

From a goal-kick, the keeper misplaced the pass to the defender and the striker latched onto it and scored (with the ball barely leaving the penalty area).

Whilst referees from all social groups are treated badly by players, it was uncomfortable to see so many male footballers argue with the female referee, attempting to explain the rules to her.

Especially when she was the one applying the correct rules and it was the male footballers who did not seem to know them.

Clearly, these are not isolated incidents in the world of football.

Richard Keys and Andy Gray were sacked from their positions at Sky Sports 10 years ago this week, for their sexist comments towards assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis, who has now taken part in almost 150 Premier League games, as well as a host of matches in the Football League.

It is fair to say that Massey-Ellis’ career has only gone from strength to strength and she is generally considered as one of the best assistant referees in the Premier League.

Guadalupe Porras Ayuso, meanwhile, will be hoping to emulate her English counterpart and enjoy a long career in top-flight and international football after making key breakthroughs over the last couple of seasons.

She would also love to be the source of inspiration for other females who want to make it in the game of football.

“I am delighted if being an assistant referee will open the door to many girls who are starting out. It’s great that the presence of women in any working environment is being normalised,” as quoted in Mundo Deportivo.

“And I hope in a few years that someone like me doesn’t even need to be in the press,” she added.

James Felton

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