The messy dispute between the Spanish soccer federation and its World Cup-winning players flared up again on Monday with a diabolical trick that Jenni Hermoso called “manipulation” — proving, even with Luis Rubiales gone and Jorge Vilda fired, that “nothing has changed.” ‘. Hermoso said.
All but two of the players, who did not mention enough changes, had asked not to be selected for the upcoming matches against Sweden and Switzerland last Friday. On Monday, the now infamous Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) selected most of them anyway.
Players were reportedly shocked. Hermoso said in a statement that they were all “confident that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions.”
Victor Francos, a government sports official, said that if the players refused to report for national team duty, they could be punished under Spanish law, which stipulates they could be suspended for several years.
A first wave of players reported to a hotel in Madrid on Tuesday. The first to arrive, goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez, was hounded by cameras and reporters and asked if she would like to be called up.
“No,” she said.
Most of the 23 selected players have been published a statement On Monday evening, they reiterated their earlier pleas for change. In the weeks after Rubiales kissed Hermoso at the World Cup medal ceremony, both privately and publicly, the players, amid decades of misogyny and inequality in Spanish football, demanded “real structural changes that help the world.” [women’s national] team continues to grow.”
Last Friday, even with a new head coach and RFEF president, they said: “The changes implemented are not enough to make the players feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential.”
Their statement, and accompanying pledge to refuse calls, reflected the original explosion of this dispute last September, when 15 players pushed for better working conditions and said the environment surrounding the national team had “significantly” affected their physical and emotional health. , and sent emails to the federation asking not to be selected until the environment improved.
The federation’s astonishing response on Monday also reflected its rallying cry last September. At the time, it published the players’ private emails, allegedly falsely characterized them to win over public opinion, and called the players’ dismissal a “very serious violation” that would see them banned for 2 to 5 years may disqualify from national team selection.
On Monday it was less explicit. In a statement alongside the selection announcement, the RFEF even acknowledged “the need to implement structural changes” and said it was “in alignment” with the players and Spanish society.
But the decision to select the standout players conveyed a very different message. It caused an ‘open war’ front page of Spanish newspaper AS blared.
“The wound is getting bigger,” Marca wrote.
“We once again regret that our federation has put us in a situation we never wanted,” the players said in their joint statement.
External criticism of the federation increased rapidly. “Everything is getting WORSE in the [RFEF],” Legend of the Spanish national team Iker Casillas tweeted.
“This is insane,” wrote Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, a Swiss star and clubmate of many Spanish players at Barcelona and now Atletico Madrid. “How can you threaten your own player?[s] similar.”
Hermoso’s individual statement went one step further. She was left out of the squad and interim head coach Montse Tomé said the omission was ‘to protect her’. Hermoso replied, “Protect me from what? And from whom?”
‘We have been looking for weeks – months even – for protection against the RFEF that never came. The people asking us to trust them now are the same ones today [selected] the list of players who have requested NOT to be called up.”
She said it was “another irrefutable proof” that nothing had changed at the RFEF.
Tomé, a former Vilda assistant of five years, said at a news conference on Monday that she had spoken to players and no one had told her they did not want to be called up. But Revelo reported that this was a lie.
Hermoso concluded: “I would like to once again express my full support to my colleagues who are surprised and forced to respond to a new unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions with the RFEF. This is why we fight and why we do it this way.”
However, with legal threats looming, six players reported to the team hotel in Madrid on Tuesday. They then traveled to Valencia where the rest of the squad, including the FC Barcelona contingent, would join them ahead of a Nations League match against Sweden on Friday.
It is the team’s first match since winning the World Cup. Under normal circumstances, this would be an occasion for celebration in any country with a competent football federation.
Instead, star midfielder Alexia Putellas, apparently on her way to training camp, was followed by reporters through a Barcelona airport, microphones bobbing up and down in front of her expressionless, fearless face.
🛫Las azulgranas ya están en El Prat para poner rumbo a Valencia con el resto de jugadoras
💥Alexia: “No voy a decir nada”
🗣️Y ha respondido a un pregunta sobre cómo se ienten: “Pues mal”
— Diario SPORT (@sport) September 19, 2023
“I’m not going to say anything,” she told them, but when asked how she felt, she said two Spanish words: “Well, bad.”