Leaders of the Spanish women’s team squad, gathered this Tuesday (19) after being called for the team’s next commitments, had a meeting with Victor Francos, head of the state sports agency, shortly after presenting themselves, to negotiate the dismissal of players who asked not to be called.
Of the 23 called up, 15 were part of the squad that won the last World Cup. Among all the athletes on the list, 20 signed a statement saying that they were not satisfied with the measures taken by the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation) after the forced kiss of the now former president of the organization Luis Rubiales on the player Jenni Hermoso after the World Cup final.
The athletes were called up for the match against Sweden, on Friday (22), in the Nations League, by Montse Tomé, the team’s new coach, despite having signed a statement last week in which they stated that they did not feel insurance under the current leadership of RFEF.
Jenni Hermoso accused the federation of trying to divide and manipulate the players. “They were taken by surprise and forced to react to yet another unfortunate situation caused by people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF”, criticized the player.
According to her, there were threats of legal and economic consequences if they refused to play. The attacker, however, was not called by Tomé under the pretext of preserving her.
“Protect me from what? Or who?” asked Hermoso. “The players are very clear that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate us and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions.”
According to Spain’s Sports Law, if they refuse a call-up, athletes can face fines of up to 30,000 euros (R$156,000) and the suspension of their federation license for a period of two to 15 years.
In the meeting with Victor Francos, the players demanded that Victor Francos release his obligations to the Spanish national team in writing to avoid future punishments.
The meeting at the training center lasted into the early hours of the morning local time and there was no definition of release until the conclusion of this text.
Many countries leave this type of sanction to FIFA (International Football Federation). The entity’s rules establish that players selected for their national team are obliged to go, and their clubs are obliged to release them if the call is made sufficiently in advance.
The entire squad called up performed throughout Tuesday under fear of sanctions. Olga Carmona, Oihane Hernández, Eva Navarro and Tere Abelleira, as well as Rodríguez, were escorted by police at Madrid airport, from where they went to the training complex in Valencia.
The choice of the city was a way found by RFEF to distance itself from the large number of journalists in the Spanish capital. The chosen training center, however, does not have artificial light, which makes it impossible to carry out activities in the late afternoon and at night.
Throughout the day, the players who arrived at the complex wore closed faces and, with few words, expressed frustration.
Goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez, 24, was emphatic. Asked if she was happy with her call-up to play for the Spanish national team, she simply said “no”.
Striker Alexia Putellas, 29, said she and her teammates were feeling “bad”. “How else would it be?” asked the player.
Spain will make their Women’s Nations League debut against Sweden in Gothenburg on Friday before playing Switzerland in Córdoba on September 26. The Nations League will determine which teams from Europe will qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Players from Sweden’s women’s team said they would support the Spanish women if they decided to boycott the game, midfielder Filippa Angeldahl said.
The government supports the players’ pressure for changes to the RFEF, but also wants Spain to qualify for the Olympic Games, said Isabel Rodríguez, a government spokeswoman.
“We want changes to happen, to be quick, for the players’ confidence to be restored, and, most importantly, what we want is to see them play and win,” he said.