Spain unveiled its roster Monday for the women’s national team’s first two matches since the team’s World Cup victory — and a post-match kiss that plunged women’s soccer into chaos.
Many of the players chosen to play for Spain, however, have made it clear in the past few weeks that they do not want to do so unless managerial changes are made by the soccer federation. But only eight of the World Cup winners remained on the roster Monday, including three injured, one retired — and Jennifer Hermoso, the star player who was forced to kiss the man who is soccer’s top executive. in Spain at the time.
“Jenni and I are friends. We believe that this is the best way to protect her,” said the new coach, Montse Tomé, in a news conference of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, when he was asked why Ms. Hermoso will play in the UEFA Nations League, which is the qualification for European teams in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Earlier this month, Ms. Hermoso filed a criminal complaint of sexual assault against former soccer chief, Luis Rubiales, after he kissed him during the World Cup medals ceremony in Sydney, Australia.
The decision of Ms. Tomé not to include Ms. Hermoso comes amid a high-stakes standoff between Spain’s star players and the national soccer federation.
Last August, after the victory in the World Cup, the team, including the players on the roster of Ms. Tomé on Monday, demanded management changes and threatened not to play without changes.
Last Friday, Ms. Hermoso and 20 of the 23 winning team members signed a joint statement with other Spanish players saying “it’s time to fight” and reiterate their demands for a change in “leadership positions in the Royal Spanish Football Federation” guarantee a “safe place where women are respected.” But they did not clearly threaten not to play.
By Monday night, with their demands still pending, it was unclear whether all the players on the Ms. Tomé will agree to play or if they boycott the matches, against Sweden and Switzerland starting on Friday, in support of Ms. Beautiful.
If they decide not to play, they could face consequences, including fines or a temporary ban, according to the National Sports Council.
“I believe they are professional world champions and they love their profession,” said Ms. Tomé, adding that he has spoken with the players in the last few days.
In a statement posted on social media on Monday night, the women’s players’ union, Futpro, said a joint statement issued by the players on Friday explained, “without room for misinterpretation, our company wishes to shall not be called, for reasonable reasons.”
“We regret that our federation has put us in a situation that we did not want,” the statement on Monday.
A few minutes later, the AFE, the main Spanish players’ union, also issued a statement, expressing their “surprise at the lack of dialogue with the Royal Spanish Football Association regarding the majority position of the players called up based on arguments that must be respected. .”
Ivana Andrés, one of the captains of the World Cup team, is currently suffering from a sports injury. He is one of the champions that is not in the roster of Ms. Tome. In a television interview on Monday night, Ms. Andrés said, “The most important thing is that we want to play.”
But “We want them to respect us,” he added, referring to the federation.
Then, the president of Spain’s state-run National Sports Council, Víctor Francos, weighed in, saying on a late-night radio show Monday night that “if the players don’t show up, the government should will use the law,” in reference. of penalties that players may face. Mr. Francos added, “Tomorrow at 8:30 am, I will call some of the players and talk to them.”
Some Spaniards also expressed dismay at the list, including a prominent politician. “This is not a call-up. It’s a threat,” said Gabriel Rufián, a member of Parliament with a pro-Catalan independence party.
A Swiss player, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, who currently plays for Spanish team Atlético de Madrid, also shared her disbelief on social media. “It’s crazy,” he said in a post on X, then known as Twitter.
The players and the federation have a lot to lose if Ms. Tomé could not rally a team in time for Friday’s game in Sweden.
Sports commentator Guillem Balagué explained that Spain could put its Olympic ticket in jeopardy if the players boycott the match against Sweden. Only “the two finalists of the Nations League, with the French squad, will be in Paris 2024,” said Mr. Balagué.
Last month, the federation took some steps to address the concerns of their star players. They urged Mr. Rubiales to resign, which he did. He appeared in court on Friday in connection with allegations of sexual assault filed by Ms. Beautiful. A restraining order was subsequently issued against him, prohibiting contact with Ms. Beautiful. Jorge Vilda, the coach of the national team, was fired earlier this month. He was accused last year of sexually controlling team members.
On Monday morning, the federation said in a statement that it guarantees a “safe environment for the players” and is committed to making changes within the organization. But it did not specify the details of the changes it intends to make or a time frame.
Although replaced by Ms. Tomé G. Vilda, becoming the first woman to hold the highest job in Spain, her appointment was not without controversy. Criticized Ms. Tomé when he participated in the standing ovation for Mr. Rubiales on August 25, after a defiant speech in which he accused Ms. Beautiful at the beginning of the kiss and railed against “false feminism.”
The statement issued by the players on Friday called for “zero tolerance” towards members of the federation who “have, incite, hide or condone attitudes against the dignity of women.”
“I shouldn’t have done it,” said Ms. Tomé about his participation on Monday.