Spain are ready to play with ‘younger and less experienced players’ after 15 women’s internationals threatened to quit unless head coach Jorde Vilda was sacked, the FA’s head of women’s football says Spanish, Ana Alvarez.
A statement signed by the unstable players and emailed to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Thursday said they were ‘renouncing’ the national team as the situation strongly affected their ‘health’ and ’emotional state’ .
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The players haven’t specified the reasons behind their request for Vilda’s replacement.
The RFEF said they would not bow to pressure from any player regarding sporting matters and called their actions “far from exemplary and outside the values of football and sport”.
“If we have to play with younger and less experienced players, we will do it because the national team is above everything,” said RFEF women’s football manager Ana Alvarez. “It’s very, very serious and has never happened before, so it’s unexpected.”
Alvarez said Vilda, who has been in charge since 2015 and is under contract until 2024, has the full support of the federation.
“Jorge Vilda is like all of us,” she said. “I spoke to him. This situation is not pleasant.
“Vilda wants to continue and for sure we want him to continue.”
Although the three national team captains – Irene Paredes, Jenni Hermoso and Patri Guijarro – last month denied asking for Vilda’s resignation, tension is growing between the Spanish players and their manager.
“They [players] have decided to take this firm step,” Alvarez said. “It is their decision and it has been noted. If they don’t want to come and they don’t commit at this time, that’s what it will be. We’re not going to wonder how the players feel. They’ve already made that very clear in a statement.”
Alvarez has confirmed that Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas is not among the 15 players demanding Vilda’s dismissal.
American striker Megan Rapinoe lent her support to the unstable Spanish players.
Rapinoe said in an Instagram post: “You have a 16th position with you in the United States. These many players together like this are so powerful. We should all listen.”
The Spanish government, meanwhile, hopes the situation will be resolved.
The Spanish Sports Council already had to mediate earlier this month after female referees went on strike demanding better terms in the first season of an all-professional women’s league in Spain.
Board chairman Jose Manuel Franco, who called the threat to leave the players “shameful”. told Spanish radio program COPE:
“Spanish women’s football was acquiring a vital and unique importance in Europe.
“We cannot afford this type of situation. Representing your country in any sport is the maximum a Spaniard can aspire to.”
Spain have two friendlies to come, first against Sweden on October 7 and the United States four days later.
Vilda guided Spain to the quarter-finals of Euro 2022 before losing in extra time to eventual winners England.