Jorge Vilda has been fired by the Royal Spanish Football Federation in the wake of the scandal involving federation president Luis Rubiales. The head coach of the women’s national team, Vilda was also removed from his post as sporting director on Tuesday.
FIFA has placed Rubiales on a 90-day suspension while it investigates his behavior from Spain’s World Cup celebrations. Rubiales has denied that his kiss of Spain star Jenni Hermoso was non-consensual and has refused to resign as president.
Meanwhile, all 23 members of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad, as well as 58 other current and former players, have said they will not return to play for the national team “if the current management continues.”
On Tuesday, the RFEF issued a statement apologizing for the “totally unacceptable behavior” by Rubiales and said that it is cooperating with the disciplinary actions taken against him.
“The RFEF wants to convey to the whole of society and to the whole of world football its deepest regret for what has happened, which has tarnished our national team, our football and our society,” the statement reads. “The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and to the values of football and sport as a whole has been enormous.”
The federation also thanked Vilda, who came under fire last year when players first spoke out about the team’s culture. Last September, 15 players said they would not play for the national team under Vilda until significant changes were made. Three of those 15 players returned for the World Cup.
In the weeks after the World Cup win, Rubiales had backed Vilda as coach. Vilda broke with his boss on Aug. 27 to condemn the incident with Hermoso.
“The coach has been key to the notable growth in women’s football and left Spain as World Champion and second in FIFA ranking,” the federation said. But, according to ESPN, Vilda was informed of his removal shortly after the statement was released.
The RFEF also promised a “profound and immediate restructuring” of the organization. Regional presidents of the organization have called for Rubiales’ resignation.
“There have to be structural changes in women’s football,” Joan Soteras, the president of the Catalan Federation and a member of the RFEF committee of regional presidents, said last week. “One of those could be [removing] Vilda. He was at the centre of the mess with the national team [last September]. If it was up to me, I would [dismiss him]. A change would be the most convenient thing for the good of women’s football.”