Spain’s players’ group have denied claims by the Spanish FA that they have called for the team’s coach to be sacked, but have reaffirmed their desire not to be selected as long as there is a commitment to a “professional programme”.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said on Thursday that 15 players from the women’s national team had threatened to quit unless boss Jorge Vilda was sacked, citing their health and emotional state.
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But on Friday the players, including Alexia Butellas — the Barcelona midfielder and Ballon d’Or winner, who was not part of the initial group to sign the statement — issued a statement. Joint statement on social media Reply to RFEF.
The players criticized the RFEF for “publicizing a personal statement, in a partial and self-interested way” and denied they had renounced the national team, saying their commitment was “unquestionable”.
“We want a solid commitment to a professional program where all aspects are taken care of and we can get the best performance from a group of players who we feel can achieve the best goals,” the players said.
“As we said, we never asked for the manager to be fired. We understand that it is not our job to choose this role, but to creatively and honestly express what we think can improve the team’s performance.
“With eight months to go until the World Cup, can anyone believe that the maximum group of players we are considering will take this decision on a whim or as a form of threat? Publicly suggested?
“By asking not to be selected, we continue to build something important in our professional life, our economic situation and of course in women’s football. Because we have reached where we are now, many years of efforts have cost many people. There is still a lot. Things to improve, as recently proved. “
Speaking earlier on Friday, the RFEF’s head of women’s football said the federation would respect the players’ request and not invite them for the upcoming games against Sweden and USA.
“Jorge Vilda will make this 15-player exclusion list for the reasons they’ve said, and it’s at their discretion,” Alvarez said.
“The work of the management team goes beyond those 15 players. In Spain we have a very high level of talent with more, equal or less experience.”
A statement signed by the restive players and emailed to the RFEF on Thursday said they would “give up” playing for the national team as the situation is strongly affecting their health and emotional state.
The players did not give specific reasons for the demand to replace Vilda or openly call for him to leave. According to sources close to the situation, players are unhappy with the management of injuries, the atmosphere in the locker room, Wilda’s team selection and his training sessions.
Padri Guijarro, the team’s third captain in the list of players; Goalkeeper Sandra Panos and midfielder Aidana Bonmati.
The email said, “The general situation of the Spanish national team has been created by recent events, events [the federation] I know, it greatly affects my emotional state, and therefore my health.”
“Due to this, I consider myself unavailable for our national team at the moment, so I ask you not to call up until this situation changes.”
The email highlights his “total commitment to the team, past, present and future.”
The RFEF said it would not take pressure from any player on sporting matters and branded their actions “unprecedented and beyond the values of football and sport”.
“If we have to play with younger and less experienced players we will because the national team is above all,” Alvarez said. “It’s very extreme 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 full support of the federation.
“Jorge Vilda is like all of us,” he said. “I spoke to him and this situation is not good.
“Vilda wants to continue and of course we want her to continue.”
Spain men’s coach Luis Enrique described the situation as “absolutely extraordinary”.
“It’s a completely unusual situation, difficult to manage,” Enrique said. I have no doubt that the federation will handle this in the best possible way.
While saying he did not question the players’ grievances, Álvarez said there were no complaints of verbal or sexual abuse by former players, who in 2015 placed Wilda against Wilda’s predecessor, Ignacio Quereda.
Tensions are rising between the Spanish players and their coach, despite the national team’s three captains – Irene Paredes, Jenni Hermoso and Guijarro – last month denying they had called for Vilda’s resignation.
“They are [players] We have decided to take this affirmative action,” Alvarez said. “This is their decision and it has been addressed. If they don’t want to come this time and don’t commit, so be it. We’re not going to question how players feel. They have already made it very clear in a statement.”
The Spanish Football Federation said the players would not be allowed to return “until they apologize”.
United States star Megan Rapinoe has offered her support to the restive Spaniards.
Robinho said in an Instagram post: “You’ve got 16th place with you in America. So many players like that together are so powerful. We all need to listen.”
Meanwhile, the Spanish government hopes the situation will be resolved.
Spain’s sports council had already had to act as a mediator earlier this month after female referees went on strike to demand improved conditions during the first season of a fully professional women’s league in Spain.
The president of the council, José Manuel Franco, described the players’ threat to walk out as a “disgrace”. said on the Spanish radio program COPE: “Spanish women’s football is gaining an important and unique importance in Europe.
“We cannot tolerate a situation like this. The most any Spaniard can wish for is to represent your country in any sport.”
Spain have two friendlies coming up, the first against Sweden on October 7 and the USA four days later.
Villa led Spain to the quarter-finals of Euro 2022, losing in extra time to eventual winners England.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.