Europe

Fifteen players leave Spain’s women’s team in dispute with coach

Spain’s women’s football team is in an “unprecedented” crisis after a dispute between 15 players and national team coach Jorge Vilda.

The group of players threatened to leave the squad unless Vilda is dismissed by the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

The 15 women said in identical emails that the team environment was “seriously” affecting their “emotional state” and “health”, according to an RFEF statement.

But the federation had pledged its support for Vilda on Thursday and dismissed the complaints.

“The RFEF will not allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, as making such decisions does not fall within their remit,” it said.

“The Federation will not allow any kind of pressure from any player when it comes to adopting sporting measures. This type of manoeuvre is far from exemplary and outside the values of football and sport and is harmful.”

According to Spanish rules, players can be disqualified from the national football team for between two and five years if they refuse to play when called up.

The federation has said it will not take this step but would only select the 15 players again if they “accept their mistake and apologise.”

“[We] will not call up players who do not wish to wear the Spain shirt,” the RFEF added. “The Federation will only count on committed players, even if it has to play with youth players.”

“This has gone from being a sporting issue to a question of dignity. The national team is non-negotiable. It is an unprecedented situation in the history of football, both men’s and women’s, in Spain and worldwide.”

Spain lost to eventual champions England in the quarter-finals of the Women’s European Championship this summer.

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