The new coach of Spain’s women’s football team has included 15 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning players in her squad, even though the players have not ended their boycott of the national team.
But Jenni Hermoso, who was controversially kissed on the lips by former federation president Luis Rubiales during the winner’s presentation, was not selected.
Spain coach Montse Tome said she talked to Hermoso and decided not to include her as a way to protect her. The controversy led to an institutional crisis and the eventual resignation of Rubiales.
“We are with Jenni on everything, and with all the players,” Tome said.
“The best way to protect her is like this, I have worked five years with her.”
Hermoso has fired back at the new coach, and released a statement on social media following the announcement of the squad.
“Protect me from what?,” Hermoso wrote as she began her statement.
“Let’s be clear: a claim was made today stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin yet at the same press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me.
“Protect me from what? And from whom?
“We have been searching for weeks – months, even – for protection from the RFEF that never came. The people who now ask us to trust them are the same ones who today disclosed the list of players who have asked not to be called up.
“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions. It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that even today, nothing has changed.
“I want to once again show my full support to my colleagues who have been caught by surprise and forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF.
“This is why we are fighting and why we are doing it in this way.”
The new coach, who was an assistant at the Women’s World Cup to former coach Jorge Vilda, did not say whether it was Hermoso who asked not to be called up.
Tome’s squad includes 20 of the players who signed a statement refusing to play for the national team unless their demands for change were met.
She said she talked to the players selected and expected them to report to training camp on Tuesday – though some players have said the first they knew of their selection was seeing it on television.
“I trust in that the players are professionals, they have just become champions of the world, they love the national team, and I know they will be here with us tomorrow,” Tome told reporters.
“Today we start a new era in the national team, that’s something good, beautiful, all players have the chance to be here and all have the same opportunities.”
Later the players issued a joint statement saying the boycott remained, adding they would take the “best decision” for their future and health after studying the legal implications it could have for them to not attend the call-up.
Under Spanish sports law, athletes are required to answer the call of its national teams unless there are circumstances that impede them from playing, such as an injury. However, the players pointed out they had asked not to be included and the call-up came without due notice.
Spain play Nations League games against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland on September 26.
Monday’s squad announcement came after the Federation released a statement in which it publicly reiterated to the players its commitment to structural changes in the institution.
Among the players’ demands was for interim president Pedro Rocha also to resign, and for the women’s team staff to be overhauled.
The Federation had said Rocha would lead “a process of transition” until the Federation can hold elections.
Switzerland forward Ana Crnogorcevic, who joined Atletico Madrid recently from Barcelona, labelled Tome’s squad “disrespectful”.
“This is insane … how can you threaten your own players like this? … Call them to the national team, when they said they want clear changes before they come back!” Crnogorcevic wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
“This is so disrespectful … clearly they don’t care… and they don’t allow them to make their own decision.”
– With Joel Martelli
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