Jenni Hermoso, Alexia Putellas and the rest of the Spanish women’s national team will not play for their country until more changes are made within the Spanish football federation (RFEF).
Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash to his forced kiss of Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge has been fired. But those changes “are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential,” the players said in a statement.
The players are demanding the restructuring of the women’s football organization, the presidential cabinet and general secretary, the communications and marketing department and the ethics and integrity department.
Head coach Montse Tomé, who took over in the wake of Vilda’s firing, is set to announce her first squad Friday. The World Cup champions are set to play in Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on Sept. 22 and 26.
“The players of the Spanish team have, at all times, been open to dialogue, seeking to convey clear and well-argued reasons that we believe are necessary to be able to carry out our work at the highest level with the respect we deserve,” the players wrote. “The specified changes to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance for those people who, from a position within the RFEF, have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women.”
Before Rubiales stepped down earlier this week, he had vowed not to resign in a meeting of the RFEF. Many in the audience at the meeting applauded Rubiales, though some have since apologized, saying that they felt pressured to do so.
At the time, players said they would not play for Spain again “if the present leadership continues.” They also asked for “real structural changes that help the national team continue to grow.” Though Vilda and Rubiales are out, the players want to see more systemic changes.
“We firmly believe that strong changes are required in leadership positions in the RFEF and specifically, in the area of women’s football,” the players wrote. “We want to end this statement by expressing that the players of the Spanish team are professionals, and what fills us most with pride is wearing the shirt of our national team and leading our country to the highest positions.
“We believe that it is time to fight to show that these situations and practices have no place in football or society, that the current structure needs changes and we do it so that the next generations can have equality in football and at the level that we all deserve.”
#SeAcabó pic.twitter.com/tV49CkOq4F— Alexia Putellas (@alexiaputellas) September 15, 2023