28th September 2023
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Spain’s new coach calls up majority of World Cup winners, despite them being on strike

New Spain coach Montse Tomé has called up the majority of the Women’s World Cup winning players into her squad for the upcoming Nations League matches, despite the fact many of them have not officially ended their ‘strike’.

Coach Tomé also left out Jenni Hermoso from the squad, announced on Monday, ‘to protect her’.

Midfielder Hermoso has been in the eye of the storm that shook Spanish football over the past month after former Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed her, with 39 players striking from the national team despite his resignation and coach Jorge Vilda’s sacking. ALSO READ: Rubiales denies any wrongdoing, but is banned from going within 200 metres of Hermoso.

The 39 players, including 21 from the 23-player squad that won the World Cup last month, had previously signed a statement refusing to play for the national team unless their demands for change were met. They called for deep reforms and new leadership after Rubiales refused to resign for kissing Hermoso. He eventually stepped down, but the players said not all of their demands have been met.

Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas was named in the squad by Tomé, along with Barcelona team-mates Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro, a duo who were not at the World Cup because of another protest against the RFEF and Vilda.

Tomé named 15 players who were part of the World Cup squad in the list for the Nations League qualifiers against Sweden and Switzerland on 22 and 26 September respectively.

She said she talked to the World Cup-winning players that she selected and expected them to report to training camp on Tuesday. She said no player asked not to be called up, but wouldn’t say whether they had actually agreed to end their boycott.

‘I trust in that the players are professionals, they have just become champions of the world, they love the national team, and I know they will be here with us tomorrow,’ Tomé told a news conference.

‘Today we start a new era in the national team, that’s something good, beautiful, all players have the chance to be here and all have the same opportunities.’

Tomé said she talked to Hermoso and decided not to include her as a way to protect her. The new coach, who was an assistant at the Women’s World Cup to former coach Vilda, did not say whether it was Hermoso who asked not to be called up.

‘We are with Jenni on everything, and with all the players,’ said Tomé. ‘The best way to protect her is like this, I have worked five years with her.’

Spanish media reported earlier on Monday that most of the World Cup winning players would not be included in the squad because they still wanted more changes, with the RFEF publishing a statement urging the players to return.

‘Players are urged to join this change led by the federation, understanding that the changes that must continue have to be solid and fair,’ said the RFEF, currently led by interim president Pedro Rocha.

The RFEF said ‘difficult decisions’ had been made in recent days and the process would continue, as the federation itself ‘is aware of the need to make structural changes’.

‘We guarantee a safe environment for the players and we are committed to a climate of mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women’s football continues to progress much more strongly,’ added the RFEF.

‘We must begin to show off the star (on the shirt, to signify the World Cup win) that the internationals have achieved with so much effort.’

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