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Alexia Putellas, Spanish players blast federation’s response as dispute escalates

Spanish players, including Alexia Putellas, said they have not resigned from the women's national team, in contrast to their federation's claim. (Catherine Ivill/UEFA via Getty Images)

Players on Spain’s national team are speaking out after the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said 15 players resigned from the team over a coaching dispute.

The federation said 15 players resigned in refusal to play under coach Jorge Vilda, but the players took issue with that characterization.

“The RFEF can confirm that, throughout today, we received 15 emails from 15 players of the women’s senior soccer team… in which they state that the current situation affects ‘significantly’ their emotional state and their health and that, ‘as long as it is not reversed,’ they resign from the Spanish national team,” the Spanish federation said in a statement.

Reigning Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas joined other Spanish national team players in responding to the RFEF’s account.

“We have never asked for the dismissal of the coach as has been commented,” the statement read in Spanish. “We understand that our work is not in any case to choose said position, but to express constructively and honestly what we consider can improve the performance of the group.”

The players did not resign, they said in their statement, and indeed “maintain an unquestionable commitment” to the national team. Rather, they asked “not to be summoned” until concerns regarding their physical and emotional well-being were addressed.

The players’ response also makes clear that they wished the correspondence with the federation to remain private, but RFEF went public with the dispute Thursday.

“We regret that in the context of women’s sport we have to go to the extreme, as unfortunately has happened in other national teams and other sports historically worldwide, in order to advance in a powerful and ambitious professional project for the present and for future generations,” the players’ statement concluded.

The move comes after a disappointing quarterfinal Euros run for Spain and just months ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

The U.S. women’s national team is set to travel to Spain for an Oct. 11 friendly as a part of the squad’s European swing.