Squash Club Apologizes for Awarding Sex Toy As Prize to Female Athlete

A squash club in Spain has been accused of sexism after tournament prizes for female competitors included a vibrator, body hair removal kits and an electric foot file.

Elisabet Sadó, who won the Asturias Squash Championship, received a trophy and a vibrator. Olaya Fernandez Lence, Marina Arraiza Mier and Cristina Barandica Fernandez, who finished second, third and fourth respectively, also received gifts which included an electronic foot file or hair removal wax. In contrast, their male counterparts did not receive any additional presents to go along with their trophies.

The athletes wrote to the Royal Spanish Squash Federation demanding answers over the treatment, which they felt promoted sexism. The organization then instructed the local federation to launch a formal investigation, along with the Asturian Women's Institute.

"We were very surprised, very shocked,” Sadó was quoted as saying by the BBC. “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."

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

Along with their letter to the squash federation, the athletes also included the prizes they received at the event, which was organized by the local squash club in Oviedo, the capital of Spain's Asturias region. "I think probably they just wanted to be funny or different,” Sadó added.

Almudena Cueto, the director of the Asturian Women's Institute, met the four players after they returned their trophies. "They returned the gifts and decided to make a formal complaint so something like this would never happen. What's occurred is shameful. It's left us speechless," said Cueto.

Sadó and her fellow players' pleas for equality were heard by the local federation, which immediately took action.

“It's the height of sexism,” Maribel Toyos, a spokesman for the Asturias Squash Federation, was quoted as saying by Spanish daily El Pais. “We had no idea the women were going to receive these gifts.”

The squash club has since apologized. "We understand the reaction and deeply regret this unacceptable incident," said official statement signed by president Nacho Manzano and acting president Barbara Fernandez.

"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."

The squash federation added three Squash Oviedo officials, including Manzano, have stepped down since the scandal was unearthed.

“We feel terribly ashamed by what's happened and we understand the gifts were not the appropriate ones but it was never our intention to offend anyone," Manzano told Spanish newspaper El Comercio Digital.