Spain Unveils Roster Amid Turmoil in Women’s Soccer
Spain revealed its roster on Monday for the upcoming matches of the women’s national team. However, this announcement comes at a time of turmoil for women’s soccer in Spain, following a postgame incident that sparked controversy.
Many players selected for the team have made it clear in recent weeks that they will refuse to play unless changes are made within the soccer federation. Despite these demands, only eight of the World Cup winners were left off the roster, including three injured players, one retiree, and Jennifer Hermoso, the star player who was forcibly kissed by the former top executive of Spain’s soccer organization.
The new coach, Montse Tomé, explained the omission of Ms. Hermoso during a Royal Spanish Football Federation news conference. Tomé stated that they are standing in solidarity with Hermoso and believe it is the best way to protect her. This decision means Hermoso will not be playing in the UEFA Nations League, which serves as the qualifier for European teams in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Earlier this month, Hermoso filed a criminal complaint against Luis Rubiales, the former soccer chief, after he kissed her during the World Cup medals ceremony. This incident has led to a standoff between the star players and the national soccer federation.
The team, including the players selected for the roster, demanded management changes after their World Cup victory in August. They threatened not to play if these changes were not implemented. On Friday, Hermoso and 20 other winning team members released a joint statement supporting their demands for a restructuring of the leadership positions within the Royal Spanish Football Federation, ensuring a safe environment where women are respected. While they did not explicitly threaten to boycott the matches, it remains unclear if all the players will agree to participate or if they will stand in solidarity with Hermoso.
If the players choose not to play, they may face consequences such as fines or temporary bans from the National Sports Council. However, Tomé expressed her trust in the professionalism and dedication of the players, stating that she has been in contact with them over the past few days.
Two players’ unions, Futpro (the women’s players’ union) and A.F.E. (Spain’s chief players’ union), also released statements expressing their support for the players’ demands and criticizing the lack of dialogue from the Royal Spanish Football Association.
Ivana Andrés, one of the captains of the World Cup team, stressed the importance of playing while also calling for respect from the federation. Víctor Francos, the president of Spain’s National Sports Council, added that if the players do not participate, the government will have to apply the law, referring to potential sanctions. He also mentioned plans to speak with the players in the morning.
The roster decision received backlash from various individuals, including a well-known politician who described it as a threat. Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, a Swiss player currently playing for Atlético de Madrid, expressed her disbelief on social media.
Failure to rally a team for the upcoming match against Sweden would have negative consequences for both the players and the federation. Spain risks losing its Olympic qualification if the match is boycotted, as only the two finalists of the Nations League, along with the French squad, will secure a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In response to the players’ demands, the federation has taken some measures, including the resignation of Luis Rubiales and addressing the concerns of the star players. However, specific details and a timeline for these changes have not been provided.
Despite becoming the first woman to hold the top coaching position in Spain, Montse Tomé’s appointment has faced criticism. She received backlash for participating in a standing ovation for Rubiales, who accused Hermoso of initiating the controversial kiss and made derogatory remarks about “false feminism.”
During Monday’s news conference, Tomé acknowledged her mistake and expressed regret for her actions.
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