Alexia Putellas has re-signed with FC Barcelona on a new two-year deal that will run through 2026. The agreement includes an option for a one-year extension. 

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years, and her previous contract was set to expire next month. However, she’s spent the better part of the last two seasons battling injuries, starting with an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship and limited her participation in Spain’s FIFA Women's World Cup win last summer. 

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Putellas returned in March from her latest injury setback, making 25 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona this season and scoring 10 goals. 

In total, the midfielder has made 400 appearances for Barcelona. Among her 20 major trophies with the club include eight Liga F titles and two UEFA Champions League titles — including helping the team to its first European trophy in 2021. 

She then won the Ballon d’Or in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. 

Putellas could add a third Champions League trophy next weekend, when Barcelona faces familiar foe Lyon, a team they’ve lost to in two previous Champions League finals. Should they secure the UWCL, they would win the quadruple for the first time, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

Spanish player Jenni Hermoso appeared in court on Tuesday to testify in the sexual assault case against former Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales.

Rubiales is named in a lawsuit brought by Spanish state prosecutors, alleging sexual assault and coercion after he kissed Hermoso on the lips without her consent following the 2023 World Cup final. They also say that he tried to convince Hermoso and her relatives to downplay the kiss publicly.

Hermoso’s testimony happened behind closed doors, with Spanish media saying that the forward asked that the appearance be kept as private as possible. She was expected to reiterate to the court that the kiss was unwanted and that both Rubiales and his staff tried to pressure both her and her family into downplaying the incident.

The judge is also hearing testimony from other World Cup-winning players, coaches and federation officials, before deciding whether to take the case to trial. Rubiales has previously denied wrongdoing to the judge, who issued a restraining order against him contacting Hermoso.

Rubiales’ actions at the World Cup – which also included him grabbing his crotch in celebration and “inappropriate” conduct toward England players – sparked international outrage. While he initially refused to resign as president of the RFEF, he later issued his resignation.

FIFA suspended Rubiales for three years, with a report in December showing that the soccer governing body considered more severe sanctions. The report went on to say that the disciplinary committee was satisfied with the three year ban, only with “strong hesitations.”

According to the prosecutors’ office in Madrid, a sexual consent law passed last year could see Rubiales face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty.

Spain has topped the FIFA rankings for the first time, with the World Cup champions ascending to the the No. 1 spot.

Following the 2023 World Cup, Sweden topped the world rankings. But Spain followed up its World Cup win with a string of impressive performances in the Women’s Nations League to finally move into the top spot. The first-time World Cup winners are just the fourth team to ever hold the No. 1 spot after the USWNT, Germany and Sweden.

Spain took five wins in the Nations League – including two over Sweden – to qualify for the Nations League semifinals in February, when they will face the Netherlands.

The USWNT, meanwhile, is up to No. 2 in the rankings after falling to No. 3 in the aftermath of a disappointing World Cup run. France took moved into the third spot.

After missing out on the Olympics and finishing third in their Nations League group, Sweden dropped to fifth. Similarly, European champion and World Cup runner-up England – also out of the Olympics – dropped to fourth.

A record 192 nations now have been featured in the rankings, with Central African Republic and Macau appearing for the first time in the latest edition. North Korea, American Samoa, Madagascar and Bahamas have made a reappearance on the list.

Esther González always dreamt of playing in the United States. Now, she’s not only made that dream come true, but she’s also a NWSL champion.

González signed with Gotham FC after winning the 2023 World Cup with Spain. And since then, the 30-year-old forward has helped the team to its first NWSL championship, scoring the title-winning goal on a header in Saturday’s final.

She predicted the goal to Spanish outlet AS ahead of the championship game.

“Yes always,” she said in Spanish when asked if she saw herself scoring in the final. “In my head, I only want to score goals, whatever the match, in training. Of course I see myself scoring in the final. I know I’m going to have a chance, I just have to make it.”

González has settled in well to the NWSL, becoming just the second player since 2015 to score a brace in one of her first two league appearances.

She also knows that she is in a league “where I can bring out my maximum potential,” and following the game she told Marta Griñan of AS that the level of competition in the NWSL is much higher than in La Liga.

“One of the biggest differences with the Spanish league, which is a great league, is that here (in the NWSL) all the games, absolutely all of them, are like a Champions League game at the highest level,” she said. “In Spain, there are some games that you can win four or five to zero, that your physical wear and tear is normal, that you have everything under control.

“Here every game is like playing against Barça, which is the best team in the Spanish League: Your level has to be the maximum, your physical demand is the maximum, and that happens weekend after weekend.”

Aitana Bonmatí won the 2023 Ballon d’Or after leading Spain to its first-ever Women’s World Cup title.

The 25-year-old midfielder took home the Golden Ball award at this summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand. She also won the 2022-23 player of the year awards from UEFA and the Champions League, and she won the Liga F, Champions League and Supercopa titles with FC Barcelona.

Her Barcelona teammate, 19-year-old forward Salma Paralluelo, finished third in the Ballon d’Or voting. So it came as no surprise that the Spanish club, which had six of the 30 total nominees, won Women’s Team of the Year.

Australia striker Sam Kerr finished as runner-up to Bonmatí. Sophia Smith, the reigning NWSL MVP and one U.S. player among the nominees, ranked 25th overall.

Bonmati’s win makes three in a row for Spain. Alexia Putellas won the 2021 and 2022 awards but missed most of the 2022-23 season with an ACL tear.

USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe won in 2019, while her teammate Alex Morgan placed third. No other USWNT players have finished in the top three since the Ballon d’Or Féminin first was awarded in 2018.

A number of prominent women’s players were unable to attend Monday’s ceremony in Paris, which was held during the FIFA women’s international window. Georgia Stanway, one of four England players nominated for the Ballon d’Or, called out the scheduling.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t be there,” Stanway said. “We spoke about it as a group and said it would be nice in the future if the ceremony wasn’t on a matchday minus one day so we can all enjoy the experience. … If it was planned a little better, then it would be easier for a lot of female footballers to be there.”

Former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales has been banned from all activities related to the sport for three years, FIFA announced Monday.

The ban comes after Rubiales’ nonconsensual kiss of star midfielder Jenni Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final. He also threw another Spanish player over his shoulder and was seen grabbing his crotch during Spain’s 1-0 win over England, and his behavior resulted in multiple investigations into his conduct.

While Rubiales initially refused calls to resign, he stepped down on Sept. 10, though he remained defiant in the face of the backlash against him. His decision to resign came after he received a provisional suspension from FIFA, the Spanish government attempted to have him removed and Hermoso filed a criminal complaint against him.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has banned Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF), from all football-related activities at national and international levels for three years, having found that he acted in breach of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code,” FIFA said in a statement Monday. “This case relates to the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023, for which Mr Rubiales had been provisionally suspended for an initial period of 90 days.

“Mr Rubiales has been notified of the terms of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s decision today. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, he has ten days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on legal.fifa.com. The decision remains subject to a possible appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respecting and protecting the integrity of all people and ensuring that the basic rules of decent conduct are upheld.”

While Rubiales has maintained his innocence, saying the kiss was consensual, Spanish prosecutors have charged him with sexual assault and coercion. They also say Rubiales attempted to put pressure on both Hermoso and her family to say that the kiss was consensual.

Hermoso has maintained that the kiss was not consensual, saying she felt “disrespected” and was left unprotected “as an employee of the federation.”

The 33-year-old midfielder returned to the national team last week for the first time since the World Cup final, scoring the game-winning goal in Spain’s 1-0 Nations League victory over Italy.

Taylor Swift made headlines Sunday when she cheered on Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. But this is far from her first foray into sports.

The 12-time Grammy-winning superstar is a well-established fan and friend of the U.S. women’s national team, in particular veteran forward Alex Morgan. She hosted the 2015 World Cup-winning team on stage at her 1989 World Tour, and she announced Morgan’s place on the 2023 World Cup roster.

So in honor of Swift’s continued world domination, Just Women’s Sports has paired her albums with women’s soccer kits from the 2023 World Cup, the Women’s Super League and the NWSL.

Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Australian superstar Sam Kerr and the Matildas’ bright World Cup kits drag us headfirst into the rankings. Does it get better than this?

Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)

World Cup champion Spain enchanted the crowd at the 2023 tournament with these coral reef-inspired kits.

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Red (Taylor’s Version)

Arsenal crashed out of the Women’s Champions League in the qualifying round. Yet despite their run ending so suddenly, they have the whole Women’s Super League season ahead in their classic red kits. So: Begin again?

1989 (Taylor’s Version)

England isn’t out of the woods yet. Despite winning the 2022 Euro title, the Lionesses are still seeking their first World Cup championship after falling to Spain in the 2023 final. But their light blue kits for the tournament will never go out of style.

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Reputation

Are you ready for it? This is the only album on the list not owned by Swift, who is in the process of re-recording her first six albums so she has control of her music. But pairing the edgy “Reputation” with the Thorns’ tattoo-inspired 2023 jerseys proved too tempting to pass up.

Lover

USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis is in her Lover era, she shared on the “Snacks” podcast in April. Don’t roll your eyes, but Angel City FC are in their Lover era too with their 2022 pink-accented kits.

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Folklore

The Football Ferns’ World Cup kits pull from nature, as does Swift’s woodsy “folklore.” While July and August slipped away like a bottle of wine, the memories of the tournament Down Under (and of New Zealand’s first-ever World Cup win) will stick with us.

Evermore

Swift has spoken about the autumnal vibes of “evermore,” and while there are no flannels to be found on the soccer field, the Netherlands’ signature orange kits bring to mind the colors of the season.

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Midnights

The USWNT did not have the 2023 World Cup run they wanted, but they still looked bejeweled in these Nike kits. Ahead of the tournament, Morgan attended Swift’s record-setting Eras Tour, which features “Midnights” tracks as its grand finale, and she had high praise for her uber-famous friend.

“She is so supportive,” Morgan said. “She’s all about women empowerment. We both share our favorite number, number 13, born the same year, in 1989. We’ve just been really supportive of each other’s careers.”

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Almost all of the players called up to the Spanish women’s national team for its September training camp agreed Wednesday to end their strike after reaching an agreement with their national federation.

More than seven hours of meetings between the players and the Spanish football federation (RFEF) ended with the RFEF saying it would make “immediate and profound” structural changes. Those meetings ended around 5 a.m. local time in Spain.

Of the 23 players selected for the September roster, 21 of them had signed a statement last week demanding action from the federation before they would return to the team. But they still received national team call-ups, and if they refused, they could have faced fines of up to €30,000 and a ban of their federation license for up to 15 years, among other possible sanctions, though officials later said they would not have imposed any sanctions.

While most of the players agreed to play for the national team in the upcoming Nations League matches after the meetings with RFEF, two — Mapi León and Patri Guijarro — decided to leave training camp. Both players were part of “Las 15,” the group of players who refused to play for the national team starting last October and missed the 2023 World Cup.

“They are working on changes. It’s a different situation for us,” Guijarro said. “It’s tough, it’s difficult. Being here, after the way everything has happened, mentally we were not ready to stay. That’s the explanation.”

While the dispute between the players and their federation stretches back to before the World Cup, Spain’s World Cup win on Aug. 20 deepened the divide. Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash against his forced kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge Vilda has been fired. Yet 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,” players said in a statement Friday.

Victor Francos, president of Spain’s national sports council, helped mediate the meetings.

“A joint commission will be created between RFEF, CSD and players to follow up on the agreements, which will be signed tomorrow,” Francos told reporters. “The players have expressed their concern about the need for profound changes in the RFEF, which has committed to making these changes immediately.”

Amanda Gutierrez, president of global players union FUTPRO, said that the meetings are a start of a “long road” for the players and the federation.

“The players see it as a rapprochement of positions. It is the beginning of a long road ahead of us,” Gutierrez told reporters. “Once again, they have shown themselves to be coherent and the vast majority have decided to stay for the sake of this agreement.”

One of the first measures taken is to remove “female” from the women’s national team’s official brand. From this point forward, both the men’s and women’s teams will be known as the “Spanish national football team.”

“Beyond it being a symbolic step, we want it to be a change of concept, and the recognition that football is football, no matter who plays it,” RFEF president Pedro Rocha said.

Spain is set to make its debut in the Nations League against Sweden on Friday, with another match set for Sept. 26 against Switzerland.

Despite Spain players’ plans to strike, selected players have arrived at their national team camp following threats of a fine or a domestic league ban. But what does it all mean? And how did we get here?

Just Women’s Sports is breaking down the major storylines as Spain players continue to be at odds with their federation.

What has happened so far?

  • Spain players reported for national team duty Tuesday despite saying Friday that they would not return to the national team until further changes were made. Nothing about that stance had changed from Friday to Monday, when Spain announced its squad for upcoming UEFA Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland.
  • Of the 23 players selected to the roster, 15 were present at the 2023 World Cup and 21 signed the statement last week demanding action from the Spanish football federation (RFEF). The team has been embroiled in controversy since its World Cup title win on Aug. 20.
  • If the players refused their call-ups, they could have faced fines of up to €30,000 and a ban of their federation license for up to 15 years, among other possible sanctions. While they tried to get out of the training camp, saying the RFEF did not inform them in a timely manner per FIFA rules, they did show up Tuesday.

What have players said?

  • Asked by reporters Tuesday if the players were in agreement with head coach Montse Tomé’s squad list, goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez simply said: “No.”
  • Jenni Hermoso was not called up to the squad, a decision she saw as a manipulative move by the RFEF and a sign that “nothing has changed,” she said in a statement. Hermoso received a nonconsensual kiss from former RFEF president Luis Rubiales at the 2023 World Cup final, which spurred a tidal wave of backlash from Spain’s players and the global soccer community. Rubiales has since resigned.
  • Mapi Léon refused a World Cup call-up as one of the original 15 players to protest the federation starting last October, but she was called up Monday. She said Tuesday: “We would have to talk at length about whether the place is safe or not safe when they are forcing us. I believe that my position has been very clear, at no time have I changed my mind.”

What comes next?

  • Victor Francos, the president of the supreme council for sports in Spain, confirmed the possible sanctions for players if they did not participate in the camp and ensuing friendlies. The sports council is expected to act as a mediator between players and the federation. “If the players don’t show up, the government will do what it has to do, which is to apply the law,” Francos said. “Unfortunately, the law is the law, but I still hope that there can be a solution. I am going to talk with the players. I am going to try.”

Even after Spain’s players refused to return to their national team, World Cup stars including Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmatí received call-ups Monday for upcoming Nations League matches.

Of the 23 players selected to the roster, 15 were present at the 2023 World Cup and 21 signed a statement just last week demanding that the Spanish football federation (RFEF) make further changes before they return. Per Spanish newspaper El Periódico, the players found out about their call-ups through the televised roster announcement.

If the 21 players refuse to play for the national team, they could face serious consequences. In Spain, the rejection of a national team call-up is punishable by a financial fine of up to €30,000, by a ban of up to 15 years, as well as other possible sanctions.

In the aftermath of Spain’s World Cup win, the national team and federation have been embroiled in controversy. Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash against his forced kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge Vilda 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,” they said in a statement Friday.

The dispute between the players and their federation stretches back to before the World Cup. In October 2022, 15 players refused to play for the national team, and they were left off subsequent rosters, including the World Cup team. Several of “Las 15” were included on the most recent roster, including Mapi Léon and Patri Guijarro.

“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 last week. “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.”

The players have called for more systemic changes in addition to the departures of Jorge Vilda and Luis Rubiales.

“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.”

Hours before Monday’s roster announcement, the Spanish federation released a statement, urging players to join them in structural change. According to Spanish outlet Relevo, national team players had not responded to RFEF’s ultimatum ahead of the announcement because they felt as though their previous statement was “clear and firm.”

“The Federation itself is aware of the need to make structural changes and has recently begun to materialize them,” the RFEF said. “Therefore, players are urged to join this change led by the Federation, understanding that the transformations that must continue must be solid and fair.”

Notably, Hermoso was not one of the 23 players selected, with head coach Montse Tomé saying Monday that the team respects her stance and stand behind her “in everything.”

“The first thing to say is that we are with Jenni in everything,” she said. “We have believed that the best way to protect her in this call is like this. We count on Jenni.”