A squash championship in northern Spain has been slammed for awarding "sexist" prizes to top women players.

Alongside a trophy, the Asturias championship awarded a sex toy, hair removal wax and an electronic foot file to top players, leading to complaints from players and the resignations of the club officials responsible.

Contest winner Elisabet Sado, who was awarded the vibrator, told the BBC that "things have to change".

"We were very surprised, very shocked. We think it's very sexist," Sado said.

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The women in second, third and fourth places won an electronic foot file or hair removal wax.

Male players did not receive any additional prizes alongside their trophies.

The female players sent a letter to the Royal Spanish Squash Federation, including the offending prizes, leading to the federation taking on their case.

"We wanted to explain it to everybody because we think ... there's a lot of discrimination ... and things have to change," Sado said.

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.

Maribel Toyos of the squash federation of Asturias (L) and competition winner Elisabet Sadó. Photo / Supplied
Maribel Toyos of the squash federation of Asturias (L) and competition winner Elisabet Sadó. Photo / Supplied

Maribel Toyos, a spokesman for the Asturias Squash Federation, told Spanish newspaper El Pais that "we had no idea the women were going to receive these gifts", adding that the prizes were "the height of sexism".

The squash club has now issued an apology: "We understand the reaction and deeply regret this unacceptable incident," said the statement signed by president Nacho Manzano and acting president Barbara Fernandez.

After pressure from the federation, the club officials responsible for the prizes, including Manzano, have stepped down.

Manzano later said: "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."

Sado was pleased that the incident had opened up a debate on sexism in sport within Spain, telling the BBC: "I think the important thing is that there is a public debate and laws in Spain and more protection so women can practise sport."