The tumult in Spanish women's football - and the pressure from players to force management changes - continues. Twenty-one players out of the 23 who were crowned Women's World Champions at the recent World Cup in Australia and New Zealand have refused to appear for the first call-up by Montse Tomé, the new coach after the dismissal of Jorge Vilda. The world champions consider that the structural changes that have taken place in the Spanish football federation (RFEF) since the end of the World Cup - and the explosion of the Luis Rubiales controversy - are insufficient. They communicated their decision to the body this Friday morning, through a letter in which they expressed the reasons for their withdrawl, which they then published this afternoon.
Alexia Putellas publishes the statement, confirming that unanimity was not total
Hours after the news, Alexia Putellas, through her social media accounts, published the statement in which the world champion players explain their reasons for making themselves unavailable. Not all of the 23 players who travelled to Australia and New Zealand signed the statement: Claudia Zornoza and Athenea del Castillo, two Real Madrid players, did not add their names to the letter. However,in the case of Zornoza, she did at the same time announce her withdrawal from the Spanish national team, adding that she "hopes the structure of the national team changes once and for all". Meanwhile, Sheila García, of Atlético de Madrid, who missed the World Cup due to an injury, has declared herself available.
Despite this, the players' statement is forceful, both in terms of its player backing and its demands. Thirty-nine top players, among them some of those who were not present at the World Cup, gave their support to a letter detailing the 5 changes they demand before they will return to the Spanish national team: the organizational restructuring of women's football; the restructuring of the RFEF presidency and general secretariat; the resignation of the RFEF president; the restructuring of the communication and marketing area; and the restructuring of the body's integrity area.
It is a statement that demands changes "based on zero tolerance towards those people who from a position within the RFEF have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women".
A decisive meeting to stay firm
The decision taken by the world champions comes after a meeting they held on Thursday night. The 23 medal winners, in addition to 12 internationals who did not go to the World Cup, including renowned players such as Mapi León, Patri Guijarro and Claudia Pina, met together with the FutPro union, the largest player's union for women's football, and came out with a clear strategy of maintaining the pressure for change on a Spanish football federation which has been thrown into crisis by the controversy over former RFEF president's Luis Rubiales non-consensual kiss of Jennifer Hermoso.
It should be recalled that the current stance of the world champions was already announced on August 25th, when, in the same statement in which Jenni Hermoso denied that Rubiales kissed her consensually, the players asked for "real structural changes " and stated that they would not play for the national team again if the current leadership continued. For the international footballers, as they have expressed in the statement, these changes have not occurred: Jorge Vilda was replaced by his number two, Montse Tomé, but the players see the problems as going far deeper. Thus, what coach Tomé and the federation will do in the face of upcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Sweden (September 22nd) and Switzerland (September 26th) remains to be seen.
Judge bans Rubiales from communicating with Hermoso
This morning, former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales appeared before the National Audience court, where he is now under investigation for alleged sexual assault, for the kiss he gave to player Jenni Hermoso during the World Cup medal presentation, held in Australia. According to prosecution sources, the former football administrator answered the questions posed by all parties. After the statement, the prosecution asked for precautionary measures against Rubiales to be imposed, including an order to maintain a distance of 500 metres from Jennifer Hermoso and to appear before the judge every 15 days. Finally, however, the judge reduced the minimum distance, requiring the former RFEF president to stay at least 200 metres away from Hermoso, that is, 300 metres less than the prosecutors demanded, However, the judge also decreed that he must attempt to communicate with the player by any means.