The controversy still does not end around the Spanish women’s football team. We thought the affair was over since the resignation of the president of the Federation Luis Rubiales, after his forced kiss to the player Jenni Hermoso. The coach Jorge Vilda had also left.
But for the players, these withdrawals remain insufficient. Demanding deeper changes within the Federation, most went on strike and refused to be selected for the next Nations League matches, Friday September 22 against Sweden and Tuesday September 26 against Switzerland. The situation became unbearable, even “ubiquitous”, when the new coach of Spain, Montse Tomé, summoned on Monday September 18, to everyone’s surprise, around fifteen world champions and other players having asked not to be selected.
A forcefully remobilized team
It took a day of psychodrama, with the defeated and sad faces of the players “forced” to attend this summons under penalty of sanctions, and a night of negotiations, with the help of the Secretary of State for Sports, Victor Francos. , to reach an agreement. “The players told us of their concern about the need to make profound changes within the Federation which promised that these changes would take place immediately,” declared Victor Francos, Wednesday September 20.
An agreement plans to develop the Spanish law on “gender policies, progress in equal pay”. Only two players ultimately decided not to play these two matches but will not be sanctioned.
“All this does not surprise me, the resignation of Luis Rubiales was not the epilogue but the beginning, it is as if we had opened a bottle of champagne, everything must come out”, assures Arantxa Uria, vice-president of the Association for Women in Professional Sports (AMDP). “We have been having problems for years, it is not easy to find a solution in a few days.”
Players demand respect
It is the word “respect” that comes up several times in the mouth of Arantxa Uria to describe the main request. Luis Rubiales and the Federation issued a report in 2020 to the Superior Sports Council (dependent on the government) recommending against the professionalization of the Women’s League. The F League, the first professional women’s championship, still managed to be born in 2022, encouraged by the government. “But this League was born with a problem within the Federation itself,” believes the vice-president of the AMDP.
The excessive control of the former coach, Jorge Vilda, had already caused a crisis. “They were heavily monitored, had to say who they saw when they left the hotel. Their bags were also examined when they returned, can you imagine a similar situation for a men’s selection?” says Arantxa Uría.
Certainly, some things have improved, after an agreement in June 2022 with the Federation, to align the bonuses of internationals with those of men, offering them similar transport and accommodation conditions during their stay in the selection. But we had to wait until this World Cup to get a nutritionist.
Despite progress, the problem is deeper. “The resignation of Luis Rubiales is not enough for them because the structure of the Federation and the former president’s trusted people are still there and do not understand that the world has changed. How do you expect players to have confidence in a communications department that releases a press release accusing Jenni Hermoso of lying? », protests the vice-president of the AMDP. It will take time to rebuild real trust.
In the meantime, Spain watches in dismay at this sad spectacle, spread across the world. And which would almost make us forget that the Spanish became world champions for the first time in their history just over a month ago.