Spain’s World Cup-winning squad to continue boycott of national team | Spain women’s football team

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All but two of Spain’s 23-strong World Cup-winning squad have signed a statement which says that “not enough” has been done to make them feel safe and respected and said that they will not be available for selection for the national team.

In a two-page statement the players express their “enormous dissatisfaction” at the events which followed their World Cup win, including the controversial kiss of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales on Jenni Hermoso and the events at the body’s extraordinary assembly. They have demanded more structural change, beyond the resignation of the disgraced Rubiales and sacking of the divisive manager Jorge Vilda.

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The signatories call for a revamp of women’s football, the resignation of the interim president Pedro Rocha, and a restructuring of the communications, marketing and ethics departments.

“The specified changes to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance for those people who, from a position within the RFEF, have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women,” the statement read. “We firmly believe that strong changes are required in leadership positions in the RFEF and specifically, in the area of women’s football.”

As a result, the Spanish football federation said it would be postponing the announcement of Montse Tomé’s squad for the matches against Sweden next Friday and Switzerland the following Tuesday, with the statement from 39 players coming just over an hour before she was set to make her announcement.

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The former assistant coach Tomé was appointed after the firing of Vilda, and she will now have to decide whether to still call up the striking players, or a completely different side for the Nations League fixtures.

Athenea del Castillo and Claudia Zornoza are the two players from the World Cup-winning squad not to have signed the player statement. Reports in Spain suggest that Del Castillo wants to focus on football, while Zornoza has put out her own statement saying she had already planned to announce her international retirement and declared her support for her compatriots.

Last month the players had said they would not play for the national team “if the present leadership continues” and asked for “real structural changes that help the national team continue to grow”.

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It was expected that the firing of Vilda and the exit of Rubiales would clear the path for the return of the players but instead they have said in their latest statement that they “believe that it is time to fight to show that these situations and practices have no place in football or society, that the current structure needs changes and we do it so that the next generations can have equality in football and at the level that we all deserve.”

Rubiales testified in front of a Spanish judge investigating accusations by state prosecutors that he sexually assaulted Hermoso with his kiss while the players drafted their statement. He has been banned from going within 200 metres of Hermoso and is not allowed to communicate with her in any way.

After Spain’s exit from the 2022 Euros at the quarter-final stage, 15 players similarly signed a letter saying their health was being impacted by the environment around the national team. The federation firmly backed Vilda and demanded apologies from the players. Only three of the 15 would go on to play for the team at the World Cup.

Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner, said on Wednesday that the players want sweeping reform.

“We are asking for changes so no woman, inside or outside of soccer, should ever have to experience again situations of disparagement, disrespect or abuse,” she said. “We need consensus, courage and leadership from the institutions, please. This is why we will not stop here.”

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