The controversy surrounding the Spanish women’s national team will not affect its friendly against the USWNT on Oct. 11, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said Thursday following the release of his team’s 24-player roster.
The Spanish soccer federation (REEF) claimed last week that 15 members of the team refused to play for coach Jorge Vilda and resigned from the squad.
Players contradicted that statement, saying they never resigned but instead asked not to be called up until questions surrounding their mental and physical health were addressed.
“Even though we are monitoring the situation, that means nothing for us in terms of preparation,” Andonovski said. “We are preparing for the best team that Spain can put out there.”
Andonovski added that “higher-ups,” meaning those involved in organizing the match between the USWNT and Spain, continue to keep him informed about the ongoing dispute. His only job, he said, is getting his players ready to play.
“From my side, I don’t really have to do anything except prepare the team in the best possible manner to win this game,” he said.
The Spanish players maintained their commitment to their team amid their disagreement with the RFEF, but they also stood their ground.
“We have never asked for the dismissal of the coach as has been commented,” reigning Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas said in a statement written in Spanish. “We understand that our work is not in any case to choose said position, but to express constructively and honestly what we consider can improve the performance of the group.”
Several USWNT players – including Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who are set to travel to Spain – offered their support to the Spanish players.
“You got a 16th standing with you in [the United States],” Rapinoe wrote in a statement released on social media. “This many players together like this is so powerful. We should all listen.”
Sauerbrunn echoed Rapinoe’s words on her own Twitter account.
“I don’t know the private details, but if 15 of the best players in the world wanted to share feedback I’d respect them enough as people and players to take their concerns seriously,” she wrote Friday.
Alex Morgan, who will not play with the USWNT in October due to a knee injury, echoed her teammates’ sentiments.
“This is so hard to watch knowing the federation is throwing their players under the bus for players asking for better protection, treatment, and professionalism,” Morgan tweeted. “Players (the BEST players in Spain) deserve so much better.”
Andonovski took a different stance Thursday, stating that it would be “inappropriate to comment on the inner workings of a team” that he is “not involved with,” before mentioning the importance of communication between players and federation coaches.
“It is vitally important in situations like this when conflicts arise,” he said. “So the parties that are involved can work through them in a productive manner.”