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Spain Women players deny asking for national coach Jorge Vilda to be sacked

Spain’s Alexia Putellas missed Euro 2022 through injury (Nick Potts/PA)
Spain’s Alexia Putellas missed Euro 2022 through injury (Nick Potts/PA)

Spain’s women players insist they have never called for the dismissal of head coach Jorge Vilda – and hit out at the governing body for going public over their concerns.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation said it had received 15 e-mails from players who refused to continue representing their country under Vilda.

According to the national governing body, the players had claimed Vilda’s regime was affecting their “health” and “emotional state” and “as long as it is not reversed they renounce the national team of Spain”.

Reports suggested the players agreed to push for the departure of Vilda, who has been in the role since 2015, soon after their defeat to England in the Euro 2022 quarter-finals due to his coaching methods and tactics.

The RFEF stated the players could be disqualified for up to five years and will only be allowed to play again “if they assume their mistake and ask for forgiveness”, adding it would replace the players with others from the national team’s lower age groups.

Later on Friday, the players issued a collective response on social media, posted via Manchester United defender Ona Batlle and Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas, the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner who was forced out of Euro 2022 by a serious knee injury.

Spain’s Ona Batlle appears dejected
Manchester United defender Ona Batlle was part of the Spain team beaten by England at Euro 2022 (Adam Davy/PA)

The players said they had “never asked for the dismissal of the coach”, adding “that our job is not in any case to choose” the position.

The group stressed disappointment “that the RFEF has made public, in a partial and interested way, a private communication with information that affects our health.”

The players made it clear “in no case have we resigned from the Spanish team as the RFEF points out in their official statement.”

The group’s message continued: “As we said in our private communication, we have maintained, continue to maintain and will continue to maintain an unquestionable commitment to the Spanish national team.

Spain head coach Jorge Vilda
Spain head coach Jorge Vilda has seen his position come under scrutiny (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“That is why we request in our communication sent to the RFEF not to be called up until situations that affect our emotional and personal state, our performance and, consequently, the results of the team and that could derive in undesirable injuries. These would be the reasons that lead us to make this decision.

“We want a firm commitment to a professional project in which all aspects are taken care of to get the best performance from a group of players with whom we believe that more and better goals can be achieved.

“We wish the best for the RFEF, for the women’s national team and for us in particular, without entering into public wars.”

The statement concluded: “From our ambition as players, fighters and winners, we just want to be able to achieve maximum professional and personal success again.

“Last but not least we will not tolerate the infantilising tone with which the RFEF concludes its statement.

“We regret that in the context of women’s sport we have to go to this extreme, as has unfortunately happened in other national teams and other sports historically at a global level, in order to advance in a powerful and ambitious professional project for the present and for future generations.”

Manchester City have two Spain internationals in their squad, defender Laia Aleixandri and left-back Leilia Ouahabi, who also shared the players’ statement on her personal Twitter account.

Asked about the situation ahead of the Women’s Super League fixture at Chelsea on Sunday, City boss Gareth Taylor told a press conference: “(I’ve had) a few conversations with the players involved. They are fine.

“A lot of this conversation is difficult for me to have because I don’t know much of the details. I have spoken to the girls, just more for support, and they are OK.

“They are enjoying life with us at the club. Hopefully that can be resolved for them and the rest of the players on the international scene.”