#FridayFutbolita – Women in Football: The story of Elche CF CEO Patricia Rodríguez

    Rodríguez is currently the only female CEO of a LaLiga Santander club, running Elche CF after several years working her way up at SD Eibar.

    Patricia Rodríguez’s story is an inspiring one as she has shown that it is possible to reach the top positions in the football industry through hard work and talent. Born in San Sebastián in 1982, Rodríguez launched her professional career working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and she had a good and comfortable job and a promotion on the way. However, when SD Eibar came up to LaLiga Santander level at the end of the 2013/14 season, she took a leap.

    Rodríguez took on a role as SD Eibar’s Director of Finance, even though the job security was dependent on the division’s smallest club avoiding relegation. They did and have still never been relegated back down to the second tier.

    In 2016, Rodríguez was then promoted into Eibar’s top boardroom job and became one of the very few female general directors in the football industry. She did so at a club that had long held an ethos of promoting women into management positions where and when there was a fit, as was also seen by the ascent of Amaia Gorostiza to the SD Eibar presidency.

    “We need more women in the top leadership positions in sport,” Rodríguez has explained in an interview with These Football Times. “Less diverse boards lack multiple perspectives that promote sound decision making, problem solving and strategic planning. I consider it very important to show to the future generations that there are women in these positions because I always say that if we cannot see something then it does not exist.”

    Together, Gorostiza and Rodríguez worked to develop SD Eibar’s infrastructure and to establish commercial and sponsorship deals abroad, something that had been unthinkable at the club just a few years previously. There was a specific focus on the Japanese market and Rodríguez was key in business negotiations in the country, with SD Eibar even managing to agree their first Japanese commercial deal in the one year of the past five that they didn’t have a Japanese player in their squad.

    By the middle of 2019, Rodríguez had established herself as one of the most respected female voices in the world of Spanish football, known for her impressive work with SD Eibar and for her appearances at various industry conferences.

    It was then that she decided to accept an offer from second division side Elche CF to become their new CEO. It was a difficult job as the club had financial issues to solve, but Los Franjiverdes put together an incredible 2019/20 campaign to earn promotion through the LaLiga SmartBank playoffs, despite having the fifth-lowest budget in the division.

    Now, Rodríguez and her colleagues have been ensuring that Elche CF are ready for top-flight football, while at the same time working on improving the facilities and boosting the club’s internationalisation efforts.

    Rodríguez is currently the only female CEO in Spain’s top division, while she also made history earlier this year by becoming LaLiga’s first ever female vice-president for the second division, although she soon had to leave that post because Elche CF won promotion out of that tier. She has already achieved so much and further success is surely still to come.

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