In the latest twist in Spanish soccer’s crisis, World Cup-winning players began reporting to training camp on Tuesday, even though they did not want to be called up to the national team as they struggled for changes within the football federation.
Local media showed some players arriving at a Madrid hotel where they briefly met with staff before heading to Valencia – a day after new coach Montse Tomé ignored their decision not to play until that their demands for reform within the federation are met.
The players said in a statement Monday that they were surprised by the call and did not intend to end their boycott, but those who did not show up would risk breaking Spanish law about the sport that requires athletes to answer the call. national teams, unless circumstances prevent them from playing, such as injury.
Failure to respond to a national team summons can expose a player to fines or even a ban from playing for their club, according to Spanish sports law. These sanctions should be requested by the federation from the government sports council, which would decide whether they should be applied or not.
One player, goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez, when asked if she was happy to be with the Madrid team, replied “No”.
Instead of regaining control of the team by summoning the players, the federation’s decision prompted the government to intervene directly in mediation with the players.
Spanish Sports Secretary and president of the Superior Sports Council Víctor Francos said he would meet the players in Valencia later on Tuesday. He also criticized the way the federation handled the situation.
“The government had let the federation talk to the players, giving it room to maneuver,” Francos told Spanish television channel La Sexta. “(But) yesterday we looked ridiculous as a nation. It’s unacceptable and this morning I spoke to some of the players. The impression I got was as negative as possible. I don’t I didn’t hear resentment or anger, I heard sadness and exhaustion, and that’s why I decided to support them.”
It is the latest embarrassing chapter in Spanish football in a crisis sparked by former federation president Luis Rubiales kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain won the Women’s World Cup last month.
Hermoso, who said she did not consent to the kiss during the awards ceremony, accused the federation of trying to intimidate the players into selecting them for the national team, even though they- They had asked not to be summoned.
She said in a statement on Tuesday that the federation’s decision to call almost half of the 39 players who had said they would not play for the national team in protest was “irrefutable proof” that “nothing has not changed.”
The players had made it clear they would not return until their demands for significant change and new direction within the federation were met, but Tomé on Tuesday selected 15 of the players who helped Spain to winning her first Women’s World Cup last month.
Tomé excluded Hermoso from the list “to protect her,” she said.
“Protect me from what? » said Hermoso. “A statement was made that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to return to, but at the same press conference it was announced that they were not calling me to protect me .”
Tomé said she spoke to Hermoso and the other players and was confident they would all report to training camp Tuesday.
The team announcement was originally scheduled for Friday but was postponed because no agreement was reached with the players.
On Monday, the federation released a statement in which it publicly reiterated to players its commitment to structural changes.
“The people who are now asking us to trust them are the same people who leaked the list of players who asked NOT to be called up,” Hermoso said. “Players are convinced that this is yet another divisive and manipulative strategy aimed at intimidating us and threatening us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions.”
The players said Monday they would study possible legal consequences if they did not show up for training camp, but said they believed the federation could not force them to join the team. They argued that the summons had not been carried out in accordance with current FIFA regulations and that some players, particularly those abroad, would not be able to report on time.
“I want to once again show my full support to my colleagues who were taken by surprise and forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within (the federation),” said Hermoso. “This is why we fight and why we do it this way.”
Among the players’ demands were the resignation of interim president Pedro Rocha, the overhaul of the women’s team’s personnel and the change of personnel in the media relations department, marketing department and other areas.
Last year, 15 players rebelled against former coach Jorge Vilda to demand a more professional environment. Tomé, Vilda’s assistant at the World Cup, included some of the rebel players in her first list.
Spain will play Nations League matches against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland on September 26.
Associated Press reporting.
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