Spain's World Cup-winning rebels report for training under sanctions threat

Reuters | Updated: 19-09-2023 18:18 IST | Created: 19-09-2023 17:51 IST
Spain's World Cup-winning rebels report for training under sanctions threat
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

Some of the rebel players from Spain's World Cup-winning women's squad who had threatened to boycott the national team in a push to stamp out sexism at the football federation (RFEF) on Tuesday reported for training under the threat of being sanctioned. Misa Rodriguez, Olga Carmona, Oihane Hernandez, Eva Navarro and Tere Abelleira, who had previously said they would not play for the team until further changes were applied at the Spanish football federation (RFEF), arrived at a hotel near Madrid's airport and were seen departing by coach for the airport to travel for a training camp near Valencia.

The five were named in the squad ahead of a Women's Nations League match against Sweden on Friday by new coach Montse Tome despite signing a statement last week calling for more heads to roll at the RFEF beyond former President Luis Rubiales and former manager Jorge Vilda. Jenni Hermoso, the player at the centre of the scandal after Rubiales grabbed her head and kissed her on her lips, sparking fury over sexist attitudes toward women footballers, on Monday accused the RFEF of trying to divide and manipulate the players.

She said they did this by threatening them with legal and economic consequences if they refused to play. Should they refuse the call-up, the players could face fines of up 30,000 euros ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years, according to Spain's Sports Act.

Two sources close to players said they were expecting the whole squad to report in view of the threat of sanctions. Asked as she arrived at the hotel whether she was happy to have been selected for the team, Misa Rodriguez replied: "No."

Players including Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas on Monday shared a statement on social media platform X that said the players had told the RFEF they did not want to be considered for selection and that they were "studying the possible legal consequences we are exposed to by the RFEF by putting us on a list to which we had asked not to be selected." Hermoso was not on the squad list announced by new coach Montse Tome on Monday, which included 15 of the 23 cup-winning players.

Twenty of those on Monday's squad list had signed a statement on Friday saying they were not satisfied with the departure of Rubiales and coach Vilda and called for more sackings at the federation. Hermoso, who according to Tome was not selected in order to protect her, on Monday offered her support to teammates "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."

Victor Francos, head of the state-run national sports agency, said on Monday the government would have no option but to apply the sanctions as stipulated in the law. "If the players do not show up, the government must apply the law. I'm sorry to say so, but we must do what we have to do," Francos told SER radio station.

Spain is set to make its debut in the Women's Nations League against Sweden in Gothenburg on Friday before playing against Switzerland in Cordoba on Sept. 26. The Nations League will determine which teams from Europe qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The government supports the players' push for changes in the RFEF but also wants Spain to qualify for the Olympic Games, spokesperson Isabel Rodriguez said in a press conference on Tuesday.

"We want there to be changes, for them to be quick, for the confidence of the players to be restored and, most importantly, what we want is to see them play and see them win," Rodriguez said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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