At times it is like a Netflix series with unlimited plot twists. At time it is just surreal. This Tuesday, in the latest episode in the saga of the Spanish women's football team and its ongoing battle with the national football federation, the RFEF, the latter description applies as the federation, making one questionable decision after another, has forced the squad to gather in Valencia, against the will of most of the players, to supposedly prepare a match against Sweden on Friday. Following last week's letter signed by 39 players calling for further changes in the organization, new coach Montse Tomé's list of a new squad, not agreed with the world champions and the signatories of the letter, has generated even more confusion.
The world champions, forced to gather in València
The detonator for all this was the Luis Rubiales case and the non-consensual kiss to Jenni Hermoso, but that episode was the tip of the iceberg of a conflictive management situation which included many other serious incidents. A part of the world champion team, who prior to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand were already demanding changes of the RFEF, again decided to take a stand ahead of the naming of the team for the Nations League matches that start this week. Those initial 15 players were joined by 24 more who signed a statement in which they demanded a series of changes within the federative body.
In addition to all this, the footballers wanted a new way of doing things, more respect and a new atmosphere to continue working and be able to defend their world champion status with dignity. For that reason, they declared themselves in rebellion and made themselves unavailable for selection until their demands were accepted. This caused the cancellation of the presentation of new coach Montse Tomé - previously the number two coach for the sacked Jorge Vilda - and of the naming of the players last Friday. Then this Monday, the RFEF announced that it was committed to the changes, but too late. And shortly after that, the coach announced her new squad, calling up 15 of the world champions, and others like the Barça players who had boycotted the Spanish team until now, Mapi León and Patri Guijarro.
Management decides on last-minute relocation
The absolute surrealism went even further this Tuesday. Despite no longer complying with the rules for calling players together, neither having notified them in advance nor planned the trip according to the established norms, the RFEF went further and decided to change the travel plan. If usually the team gathers in Madrid, with all the internationals meeting the coaching staff in the Las Rozas football complex, this time it was different. In a desperate attempt by the RFEF to try to avoid journalists and fans in the federation's facilities, they sent the footballers to València.
The coaching staff of Montse Tomé did meet this morning at a Madrid hotel near the Barajas airport, with the presence of players from clubs in Madrid, and also about forty journalists. But the meeting with all the footballers was planned for later this Tuesday in València. The footballers received plane tickets to take them to València, and later to Oliva, a town located further south of the Valencian Country capital. Several of them, in brief comments to journalists at airports, made it very clear that they were unhappy with the situation. The federation had threatened any who failed to turn up with heavy fines and long suspensions.
The choice of Oliva was to find a more neutral place to be able to negotiate between all parties, as advised by the Higher Sports Council (CSD). But it has also confirmed that the big problem is the absolute improvisation of the RFEF, since the field chosen in Oliva has artificial grass and no lighting. Therefore, the players will not be able to train this evening. In fact, there could be a new location change to Dénia, where there is a training ground in good condition.
After the talks that took place between the footballers and Víctor Francos, president of the CSD, it is understood that all players are attending the team concentration to avoid legal problems and fines. In theory, they will be in Oliva until next Thursday, when they are scheduled to travel to Gothenburg, with the team due to debut in the Nations League on Friday 22nd, against Sweden. But it is far from ruled out that there could be new chapters in this surreal case, and that once again the footballers will speak up and take the initiative.