Real Madrid are conspicuous in their absence this summer.
While Barcelona have more representation than any other club at the Women’s World Cup, not a single Real Madrid player is in France.
That’s because Los Blancos, depressingly, still don’t have a women’s team.
It’s been two years since Florentio Perez sheepishly reiterated the club’s plan to eventually form a ‘Femenino’ side — something Barcelona did in 1988.
And yet here we are, in the midst of the most-covered women’s tournament ever, and we’re still no closer to the world’s biggest club showing any genuine commitment.
Many clubs without a women’s team cite financial and logistical issues as the primary reasons.
This doesn’t wash with Real Madrid.
According to Business Insider, Real are the standalone richest football club in the world.
Even after the signings of Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard, Real can afford to set up and run a women’s team, a competitive one at that.
Then there’s the business angle.
Women’s football is the fastest growing format of the sport, with many predicting significant commercial opportunities.
Back in March, 60,739 people watched Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano — a European record for a top-flight domestic women’s game.
6.1 million tuned in to watch Phil Neville’s England beat Scotland in their opening World Cup fixture on BBC One.
Despite what the boring ‘nobody cares’ moaners say, the appetite is there.
Most pressingly, Real Madrid’s disregard for a women’s team is a slap in the face of their fans.
According to AS, over a fifth of Real Madrid members are female.
They are the most-followed club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
From this we can conclude it is likely they have one of the largest female fan bases in the world.
Until they form a women’s team, they continue to disrespect a significant portion of their supporters and paying members by failing to properly acknowledge female involvement in the support.
Real Madrid are far from the only club without a women’s team.
But since Man United reinstated theirs last season, the La Liga giants are the biggest club without one by a considerable margin.
As one of the most successful clubs in the world, from both a sporting and business perspective, they set an example for others to follow.
Surely they realise the positive impact a Real Madrid Femenino side would have on the women’s game?
We’ve waited too long already.