all scores

Spain coach Jorge Vilda dismisses controversy ahead of World Cup final

Spain coach Jorge Vilda speaks to the media ahead of the World Cup final. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Spain’s road to the World Cup final has been paved with controversy.

Last September, 15 Spanish first team players sent letters to RFEF, Spain’s football federation, demanding changes to the program and condemning head coach Jorge Vilda’s approach to leadership.

The controversy has led some to believe there is a rift within the team. Vilda attempted to lower the temperature Saturday when addressing the media ahead of Spain’s match against England in the final.

“From the very beginning, the players have been united and working a lot,” Vilda said. “Today will be the 65th training session and all have come out very well — the training, games, everything inside the squad has been extraordinary. They have had fun, we’ve been together.”

When asked how he manages “issues” off the field, Vilda demurred. “Next question, please,” he said.’

Spain defeated Sweden, 2-1, to advance to the final against England, a rematch of the Euro 22 quarterfinal, which the Lionesses won en route to winning the tournament.

“The game of last year, we know we were on top, but the result is what counts,” Vilda said. “But England knows what is front of them tomorrow — these games require our best, but the team has evolved and grown in this World Cup.”

No matter the result, however, the questions surrounding Spain are unlikely to dissipate. Of the 15 players who raised concerns about the program – known as “Las 15” – only three were selected to the World Cup squad. The Spanish media has reported on a divide among the players.

Vilda, though, is projecting a sunny team atmosphere ahead of the championship.

“I am extremely pleased to play a World Cup final tomorrow, with a country that is supporting the team,” he said. “It could be the happiest day of their lives. We feel very supported.”