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Jenni Hermoso breaks silence on Spain women’s soccer’s ‘worst moments’

Jenni Hermoso spoke out in support of her Spain teammates amid a dispute with the national federation. (Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Jenni Hermoso, the all-time leading scorer for Spain’s women’s national soccer team, is speaking out in support of her teammates in the midst of a dispute with their national federation.

“I wish with every ounce of my soul that I didn’t have to write this, but I understand that not doing so would leave control of my message in the hands of others and my name to be subjected to manipulation by third party interests,” she wrote in a statement.

Hermoso called the disagreement between players and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) “one of the worst times in the history of Spanish women’s football.”

Last week, RFEF announced that 15 players on the team said they would resign rather than play under coach Jorge Vilda.

The players took issue with that characterization, saying they did not resign but rather asked not to be called up to the national team until their concerns for their health and well-being were addressed.

In a statement posted to several players’ Twitter accounts last Friday, the players said they had not called for the firing of Vilda. They also made clear that had wanted their correspondence with the federation to remain private.

While Hermoso did not post that statement to her Twitter account, she posted her own statement Tuesday.

“The reality is that I haven’t slept for days, thinking of solutions and looking for explanations to the emptiness so great that I feel inside of me,” Hermoso said. “And it is that, after all that we have worked for, that breaks my heart to recognize that we are experiencing the worst moments in the history of women’s football in Spain.

“I want to publicly express my support for all my colleagues who a few days ago decided to communicate their position. Not only do I understand your reasons, but I have also experienced many of the feelings and concerns you have communicated.”

Hermoso admitted to feeling “immense loneliness within the national team” in recent years.

Per an ESPN report, sources have said that players are unhappy with the current management structure of injuries, locker room atmosphere, team selection and training sessions. As a result, players’ relationship with Vilda has broken down.

“It is important to understand that the situation we are experiencing does not come overnight,” Hermoso said. “It is evident that it is the consequence of a cluster of events, behaviors, decisions, failed attempts and exhaustion from trying to make the player’s voice heard.”

RFEF has thrown its full support behind Vilda, who is under contract until 2024. The federation also has threatened bans of two to five years to players who refuse a national team call-up.

USWNT stars Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan have voiced their support for the Spanish players.

The two teams are set to face off on Oct. 11, and Spain is scheduled to play against Sweden on Oct. 7. Vilda is expected to name his squad for those two friendlies on Friday.

Hermoso said she will accept a call-up but is still hoping for a solution.

“I am lucky to have worn the [Spain] jersey for 15 years, and I have tried to enjoy every stage that I have lived to the fullest,” Hermoso said. “In that time, I have always put the group first and this time it will be no different because for me, defending my country is, and always will be, a source of great pride and motivation.

“All of the players that decided to raise their voices are committed to the national team and wish to be part of the preparation process for next year’s World Cup.

“For this reason and from my position as a player fully committed to football, to Spanish women’s football and to the national team, I want to find solutions so that we can put our sport where it deserves to be. I sincerely hope that we will soon see a united, committed and enthusiastic national team again. I will raise my voice and listen to anyone who wants to fix this situation.”

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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