20th April 2024
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Spanish women’s team coach Vilda sacked, amid Rubiales controversy

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) fired the women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda on Tuesday, less than three weeks after his team won the Women’s World Cup title and amid the controversy involving the suspended federation president, Luis Rubiales.

‘The Royal Spanish Football Federation … has decided to dispense with the services of Jorge Vilda as sports director and women’s national team coach,’ the RFEF said in a statement.

The RFEF statement contained no criticism of Vilda, saying he had been ‘key to the remarkable growth of women’s football and that had left Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings’.

The RFEF did say that Vilda’s dismissal was ‘the first of a string of restructuring measures’ aimed at improving the governance within the federation in the wake of the Rubiales scandal, which has exposed what critics say is a deep-rooted misogyny within Spanish football.

42-year-old Vilda had been the team’s coach since 2015, and was known for being close to Rubiales.

One of Vilda’s assistant coaches, Montse Tomé, was appointed to replace him. Tomé is the first woman to hold the job. She is a former midfielder who won four caps for Spain, and will lead the team into the UEFA Women’s Nations League qualifying later this month, with fixtures against Sweden and Switzerland on 22 and 26 September.

Vilda was among those who applauded Rubiales when he refused to resign, despite facing widespread criticism for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the title celebrations in Sydney last month.

Rubiales, who also grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture after the final, has been provisionally suspended by FIFA and is facing a Spanish government case against him for the conduct that prompted a storm of criticism and led to widespread calls for his resignation. ALSO READ: Spain opens legal case to try and force Rubiales out, as football chief breaks his silence.

Vilda later said Rubiales’ behaviour was improper. Men’s coach Luis de la Fuente also applauded Rubiales’ diatribe against what he called ‘false feminists’, and apologised on Friday for having clapped in what he described an ‘inexcusable human error’.

The captains of Spain’s men’s national team on Monday condemned Rubiales’ ‘unacceptable behaviour’ in a show of support for the Women’s World Cup-winning team.

Vilda was at the helm at the World Cup even though some players rebelled against him less than a year ago in a crisis that put his job in jeopardy. Fifteen players stepped away from the national team for their mental health, demanding a more professional environment. Only three returned to the squad that won the World Cup.

Vilda was heavily backed by Rubiales throughout the process.

The president currently in charge of the Spanish soccer federation, Pedro Rocha, released a letter on Tuesday apologising to the football world and to society in general for Rubiales’ behaviour.

Rocha said the RFEF had the responsibility to ask for ‘the most sincere apologies to the football world as a whole’, as well as to football institutions, fans, players — especially of the women’s national team — ‘for the totally unacceptable behaviour of its highest representative’.

‘In no way his behaviour represents the values of Spanish society as a whole, its institutions, its representatives, its athletes and the Spanish sports leaders,’ Rocha wrote. Click on the image below for the full statement in English.

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1 comment

Maria Ponce 5th September 2023 at 6:26 pm

It’s about time girls and women get respectability in a male-dominated society. Rubiales should have been fired immediately for his sickening behavior in the world women’s soccer championship. There’s always a better, more professional replacement for his job.

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