BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish football is in turmoil after 15 players from the women’s national team pulled out of the squad, saying their coach had “significantly” affected their “emotional state” and health.
Late Thursday, the federation announced that the 15 players had sent identical letters by email, citing coach Jorge Vilda as the reason for the problems.
On Friday, the email sent by the players was published by local media. The federation confirmed to The Associated Press that the email was authentic and the names of the 15 players, which did not include Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.
The email did not explicitly demand that Vilda be fired. He said that “the general situation of the Spanish national team generated by recent events, events of which (the federation) is aware, greatly affects my emotional state and therefore my health”.
“For this reason, I do not currently consider myself available for our national team and therefore ask not to be called up until this situation changes.”
The email adds “the player’s total commitment to the team in the past, present and future”.
The list of players includes the team’s third captain, Patri Guijarro, goalkeeper Sandra Paños and attacking midfielder Aitana Bonmatí.
Earlier this month, Guijarro appeared at a press conference alongside first team captain Irene Paredes and striker Jennifer Hermoso to explain their issues with Vilda. Neither Paredes nor Hermoso are among the 15 who asked to leave the team.
During this press conference, Paredes said that the players never asked for Vilda’s dismissal, but she said that they were not satisfied with the results of the team which qualified for the quarters of European Championship final in July before losing to eventual champions England 2.-1.
“It’s a complicated moment,” Paredes said. “We are an ambitious team and we want to improve and win. We believe that various internal aspects (of the team) need to improve.
Guijarro then said “there is widespread dissatisfaction within the team for what we experienced at the end of the Eurocup. We thought we had a group that could win titles. It is what we think and feel. After the Eurocup, the group sent this message to our coach.
Vilda also spoke about the fracture within the team during the European Championship, which was played in England.
“The atmosphere within the team has always been good,” said Vilda. “In the first 15 days of the Europcup (camp), the atmosphere was positive. Then the games started and something changed. We were in a football paradise and hopefully we can go back there in the future. future. We have a team of good players and we are one step away from being a great team.
During this press conference, none of the players mentioned their emotional health. This led to speculation in the Spanish media that there could be something more behind the decision than just disappointing results.
Ana Álvarez, head of women’s football at the Spanish Football Federation, defended Vilda’s professionalism.
While saying she does not question the emotional distress of the players, Álvarez said there have been no reports of verbal or sexist abuse similar to that committed by former players against the Vilda’s predecessor, Ignacio Quereda, whom Vilda replaced in 2015.
Quereda quit after his players publicly called on the federation to get rid of him over what they called his poor preparation for the 2015 World Cup. Former players later accused him of using sexist and homophobic language to psychologically abuse them during his nearly three decades at the helm.
“Nothing like this has ever happened (under Vilda),” Álvarez told Cadena SER radio on Thursday night. “We are all professionals and there has never been anything to taint that. Nothing that you might think has happened. It would be very serious.
The Spanish football federation said players would not be allowed to return until they “apologized”.
Spain are set to host friendlies against Sweden on October 7 and the United States on October 11. Vilda is expected to announce her squad for those matches next week.
Álvarez said the federation would call up younger and less experienced players to complete their squad if needed.
“The federation comes first,” she said.
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