Spain are ready to play with “younger and less experienced players” after 15 internationals threatened extinction if head coach Jorde Vilda is not sacked, said the Spanish FA’s female football boss Ana Alvarez.
A statement signed by the unsettled players and emailed to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Thursday said they were “abandoning” the national team as the situation was taking their “health” and “emotional state” severely affect.
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The players have not specifically justified their request to replace Vilda, nor have they explicitly called for his departure. According to sources close to the situation, the players are unhappy with the handling of injuries, the atmosphere in the dressing room, Vilda’s team selection and his training sessions.
The player list includes the team’s third captain Patri Guijarro, goalkeeper Sandra Panos and midfielder Aitana Bonmati. Ball’on Dor winner Alexia Putellas is not among the players who signed the statement.
The email read: “The general situation in the Spanish national team caused by the recent events, events that [the federation] being aware of has a major impact on my emotional state and therefore on my health.”
“For this reason I do not currently consider myself available for our national team and therefore ask not to be called up until this situation changes.”
The email adds the player’s “full commitment to the team past, present and future.”
RFEF said it would not bow to pressure from a player regarding sports matters, calling their actions “far from exemplary and outside the values of football and sport”.
“If we have to play with younger and less experienced players, we will do that because the national team is above everything,” said RFEF chief football officer Ana Alvarez. “This is very, very serious and has never happened before so it’s unexpected.”
Alvarez said Vilda, who has been in charge since 2015 and is under contract until 2024, has the federation’s full support.
“Jorge Vilda is like all of us,” she said. “I spoke to him. This situation is not nice.
“Vilda wants to continue and of course we want him to continue.”
Alvarez said she doesn’t question the players’ emotional distress but said there have been no reports of verbal or sexist abuse similar to those voiced by former players against Vilda’s predecessor Ignacio Quereda, whom Vilda replaced in 2015.
Although the three national team captains – Irene Paredes, Jenni Hermoso and Guijarro – denied last month that they had asked for Vilda’s resignation, tensions between the Spanish players and their coach have increased
“She [players] have decided to take this firm step,” Alvarez said. “It is her decision and she has been acknowledged. If they don’t want to come and aren’t committed at that point, so be it. We will not question how the players feel. They already said it very clearly in a statement.”
The Spanish Football Federation has said players will not be allowed to return until they ‘ask for forgiveness’.
US striker Megan Rapinoe has expressed her support for the unsettled Spanish players.
Rapinoe said in an Instagram post: “You have a 16th place with you in the United States. These many players together are so powerful. We should all listen.”
The Spanish government is hoping for a solution to the situation.
Spain’s Sports Council was forced to act as mediator earlier this month after referees went on strike in the first season of a fully professional women’s league in Spain to demand better conditions.
Council President Jose Manuel Franco, who called the players’ threats to quit “disgraceful”, to the Spanish radio program COPE:
“Spanish women’s football acquired a crucial and unique importance in Europe.
“We cannot afford such a situation. Representing your country in any sport is the maximum a Spaniard can aspire to.”
Spain have two friendlies ahead of them, first against Sweden on October 7 and the United States four days later.
Vilda led Spain to the quarter-finals of Euro 2022 before losing to eventual winners England in extra time.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/spain-espw/story/4752428/spain-womens-team-to-replace-15-players-threatening-to-quit-over-head-coach-stay Spain women’s team to replace 15 players threatening to quit over head coach stay