Mutiny in Spanish squad as 15 footballers refuse to play to oust head coach | Spain Women’s Soccer Team

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The Spanish women’s team entered a crisis on Thursday evening when 15 players did not make themselves available for selection as long as Jorge Vilda was working as head coach.

Each of the players has written to the Spanish Federation (RFEF) stressing that the situation with the coach, whom they had not removed at the end of August, has affected their health and emotional state and that they do not intend to return until a solution is found.

Six Barcelona players were among those who sent emails, as were Manchester United players Ona Batlle and Lucía García, and Manchester City players Laia Aleixandri and Leila Ouahabi. Captain Irene Paredes and Ballon D’Or winner Alexia Putellas were not among them, but due to an injury the latter was already unavailable for the upcoming games in October.

The Federation responded with a forcefully worded statement describing this as “unprecedented in the history of football”, a situation that “goes beyond sports as a matter of dignity”, and insists it would not give in to pressure. The Federation noted that refusal to play for the national team could lead to a two- to five-year suspension, but stated it would not summon any of the players involved until they “admit their mistake and apologize”. If necessary, the Federation will draft youth players.

The letters come three weeks after a mutiny in which members of the Spanish squad expressed their displeasure with Vilda to President Luis Rubiales. They then also confronted Vilda, but he refused to resign. The players appeared together at a press conference – supported on social media by Putellas – in which Paredes insisted they “didn’t ask for his resignation”, but admitted that “the captains, who represented the group, communicated as we feel.” She said they were reassured that changes were coming.

Spain played against Ukraine on September 6. On Friday, emails came in from Patri Guijarro, Mapi León, Aitana Bonmatí, Mariona Caldentey, Sandra Paños, Andrea Pereira and Clàudia Pina from Barcelona, ​​as well as from Batlle, Aleixandri, Ouahabi, Ainhoa ​​Vicente, Lucía García, Lola Gallardo, Amaiur Sarriegi and Nerea Eizagirre. None of the Real Madrid players sent emails.

Ona Batlle, who plays her club football for Manchester United, tries to remove Jorge Vilda as head touch
Ona Batlle, who plays her club football for Manchester United, tries to remove Jorge Vilda as head touch Photo: Oscar J Barroso/Shutterstock

The Federation refused to bow to that pressure, and the belligerent tone and language used in their response underlined that reconciliation will be extremely difficult. A statement released late Thursday night confirmed they had received 15 letters that, it was noted, were all “coincidentally written the same way”.

“The RFEF will not allow the players to question the continuity of the coach as making those decisions is not part of their role,” the statement vowed. “The Federation does not accept any kind of pressure exerted by a player when it comes to making sporting decisions. This kind of scheming is not in keeping with the values ​​of football or sport and is harmful.”

“Under Spanish law, failing to answer the national team’s call is classified as a serious offense and can lead to suspensions of two to five years. [But] the RFEF, contrary to the behavior of these players, wants to make it clear that they will not make it that extreme nor will it put pressure on players. It just won’t call for those players who don’t want to wear the Spanish shirt.

“The RFEF only appeals to players who are committed, even if that means playing with youth players. The national team needs players who are committed to the project and the defense of our colors and who are proud to wear the Spain shirt. The players who have resigned will only return in the future if they admit their mistake and apologize.”

Spain will play Sweden on October 7 in Córdoba. Under Vilda, Spain reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2022, where they lost to England in extra time.