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Mutiny in the Spanish squad as 15 footballers refuse to play in a bid to oust the head coach | Spain women’s national football team


Spain’s women’s national team was plunged into crisis on Thursday night when 15 players declared themselves unavailable for selection while Jorge Vilda remains as head coach.

Each of the players have written to the Spanish Federation (RFEF) insisting that the situation with the coach, whom they failed to release at the end of August, has affected their health and emotional state and that they have no intention of returning until a solution is found.

Six Barcelona players were among those who sent the 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 injury meant the latter was already unavailable for the next games in October.

The Federation responded with a strong statement calling this “unprecedented in the history of football”, a situation which “goes beyond sport to be a matter of dignity”, and insisted that it does not would not give in to pressure. The Federation noted that refusing to play for the national team could result in bans of two to five years, but said it would not call any of the players involved until they “admitted their mistake and presented excuses”. The Federation will field young players if necessary.

The letters come three weeks after a mutiny in which members of the Spain squad expressed their dissatisfaction with Vilda to President Luis Rubiales. They then also confronted Vilda, but he refused to quit. The players appeared together at a press conference – backed on social media by Putellas – in which Paredes insisted they had “not asked for him to be sacked” but admitted that “the captains, representing the group, have communicated how we feel”. She said they were reassured there would be changes.

Spain played Ukraine on September 6. On Friday, emails arrived from Patri Guijarro, Mapi León, Aitana Bonmatí, Mariona Caldentey, Sandra Paños, Andrea Pereira and Clàudia Pina from Barcelona, ​​as well as 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 at his football club for Manchester United, tries to take off Jorge Vilda as a touch in the head
Ona Batlle, who plays at his football club for Manchester United, tries to take off Jorge Vilda as a touch in the head Photography: Oscar J Barroso/Shutterstock

The Federation refused to bow to this pressure, and the bellicose tone and language used in its response underscored that reconciliation will be extremely difficult. A statement released late Thursday evening confirmed that they had received 15 letters which, it noted, were all “coincidentally written the same way”.

“The RFEF will not allow players to question the continuity of the coach, as making such decisions is not part of their role,” the statement promised. “The Federation will not accept any form of pressure exerted by any player when it comes to sporting decisions. This type of intrigue does not correspond to the values ​​of football or sport and is harmful.

“Under Spanish law, failing to respond to the national team call-up is classified as a serious offense and can lead to suspensions ranging from two to five years. [But] the RFEF, contrary to the behavior of these players, makes it clear that it will not go to extremes and that it will not put pressure on the players. He simply won’t call players who don’t want to wear the Spanish shirt.

“The RFEF will only call on committed players, even if it means playing with young people. The national team needs players committed to the project and the defense of our colors and proud to wear the jersey of Spain. Players who have tendered their resignation will only return in the future if they admit their mistake and apologize.

Spain are due to face Sweden in Cordoba on October 7. Under Vilda, Spain reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2022, where they lost in extra time to England.

theguardian Gt

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