15 Sep Spain strike to go on despite Rubiales, Vilda exits
The squad for UEFA Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland this month is due to be announced on Friday, but the players have sent a joint email to the Royal Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] explaining that they are not ready to return.
EFE reported that 41 players signed the statement in total, including all 23 who formed the squad which won the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand last month.
That success has been overshadowed by ousted RFEF president Rubiales’ behaviour in the aftermath of the 1-0 victory over England.
Rubiales is facing sexual assault charges for his unsolicited kiss on forward Jenni Hermoso — who says the kiss was without consent and she felt the victim of an aggressive act — and is due to appear in court on Friday as a defendant.
He is also facing coercion charges for putting pressure on Hermoso and her relatives to say that she justified and approved what happened, according to the prosecutors’ report.
FIFA and Spain’s top sports court [TAD] have also opened investigations into Rubiales’ conduct after the final, when he also grabbed his crotch, hugged and kissed other players and threw another other his shoulders.
After initially refusing to resign, Rubiales, who maintains the kiss was consensual, eventually stepped down last Sunday, three weeks after the final in Sydney.
Prior to that, Spain’s World Cup winning coach Vilda had been sacked as interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha carried out structural changes in a bid to bring the players back into the fold.
Vilda was replaced by his former assistant Montse Tome, who is set to be presented officially later on Friday.
On Aug. 25, after a speech in which Rubiales refused to resign, all 23 members of the World Cup-winning squad said they would not play for their country again under the regime. In total, 81 current and former internationals put their name to that statement.
However, according to reports, the action taken so far has been deemed insufficient as the players seek longer-lasting changes.
“We are here to stay, to help those that come after us, because there is still a long way to go, as we are seeing these days with the serious situation we are facing with the [RFEF],” Spain and Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas said this week.
“The changes we are all asking for are so that no woman, inside or outside football, ever has to live a situation of disrespect or abuse.”
“We need consensus, courage and leadership from the institutions. We will not stop here, those who fought before us deserve it, we deserve it for the effort we make every day and all the girls and boys who today dream of being like us deserve it. We will not fail you.”
Spain play Sweden in Gothenburg on Sept. 22 and then return home to host Switzerland in Cordoba on Sept. 26. Both games in the Nations League, which also serves as a qualifying event for next summer’s Olympics.