The Spain women's national football team (Spanish: Selección femenina de fútbol de España) represents Spain in international women's football. Although not considered a powerhouse like most of the other famous European nations, it has achieved some success like reaching the European Championship's semifinals in 1997. Its youth division has enjoyed some big success in recent times, like their two consecutive wins at the UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship in 2010 and 2011, as well as their third place finish at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which brought hope to the women's senior team.
In October 2012 the senior team qualified for the European Championship for a second time sixteen years later, after beating Scotlandin repechage in the extra time's overtime.
After underground women's football clubs started appearing in Spain around 1970 one of its instigators, Rafael Muga, decided to create a national team. It was an unofficial project as football was considered an unsuitable sport for women by both the Royal Spanish Football Federation and National Movement's Women's Section, which organized women's sports in Francoist Spain. When asked about the initiative in January 1971 RFEF president José Luis Pérez Payá answered I'm not against women's football, but I don't like it either. I don't think it's feminine from a esthetic point of view. Women are not favored wearing shirt and trousers. Any regional dress would fit them better.
One month later, on 21 February 1971, the unofficial Spanish national team, including Conchi Sánchez, who played professionally in the Italian league, made its debut in Murcia's La Condomina against Portugal, ending in a 3–3 draw. The team wasn't allowed to wear RFEF's crest and the referee couldn't wear an official uniform either. On July 15, with a 5-days delay for transfer issues, it played its first game abroad against Italy in Turin's Stadio Comunale, suffering an 8–1 defeat. It was then invited to the 2nd edition of unofficial Women's World Cup, but RFEF forbid them to take part in the competition. Despite these conditions Spain was entrusted hosting the 1972 World Cup. RFEF vetoed the project, and the competition was cancelled and disbanded. The unofficial Spanish team itself broke up shortly after.
After the transition to democracy in the second half of the decade RFEF finally accepted women's football in November 1980, creating first a national cup and next a national team, which finally made its debut under coach Teodoro Nieto on 5 February 1983 in La Guardia, Pontevedra. The opponent was again Portugal, which defeated Spain 0–1. The team subsequently played 2-leg friendlies against France and Switzerland drawing with both opponents in Aranjuez and Barcelona and losing in Perpignan before it finally clinched its first victory in Zürich (0–1). On 27 April 1985 it played its first official match in the 1987 European Championship's qualification, losing 1–0 against Hungary. After losing the first four matches Spain defeated Switzerland and drew with Italy to end third. The team also ended in its group's bottom positions in the subsequent 1989 and 1991 qualifiers. After the former Nieto was replaced by Ignacio Quereda, who has coached the team since.
The 1995 Euro qualifying marked an improvement as Spain ended 2nd, one point from England, which qualified for the final tournament. In these qualifiers Spain attained its biggest victory to date, a 17-0 over Slovenia. In the 1997 Euro qualifying it made a weaker performance, including a record 0–8 loss against Sweden in Gandia, but the European Championship was expanded to eight teams and Spain still made it to the repechage, where it defeated England on a 3–2 aggregate to qualify for the competition for the first time. In the first stage the team drew 1–1 against France, lost 0–1 against host Sweden, and beat 1–0 Russia to qualify on goal average over France to the semifinals, where it was defeated 2–1 by Italy. All three goals were scored by Ángeles Parejo.
This success was followed by a long series of unsuccessful qualifiers. In the 1999 World Cup's qualifying Spain ended last for the first time, not winning a single game. In the 2001 Euro's it made it to the repechage, where it suffered a 3–10 aggregate defeat against Denmark. In the 2003 World Cup's it again ended last despite starting with a 6–1 win over Iceland. In the 2005 Euro's, where a 9–1 win over Belgium was followed by a 5-game non scoring streak, it ended 3rd behind Denmark and Norway. In the 2007 World Cup's the team again ended 3rd behind Denmark and Finland despite earning 7 more points.
In the 2009 Euro's Spain made its better performance since the 1995 qualifiers, narrowly missing qualification as England clinched the top position by overcoming a 2–0 in the final match's second half. Spain had to play the repechage, where it lost both games against the Netherlands. In the 2011 World Cup's Spain again ended 2nd, with no repechage, after England again overcame a half-time 2–0 in their second confrontation.
Spain achieved 16 years later a place for the final stage of an European Championship. The team qualified for the UEFA Women's Euro 2013, after beating Scotland in the qualifiers playoff. In the group stage, a win over England and a draw against Russia was enough to qualify for the quarterfinals, where it was eliminated by Norway.