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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.”