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Jorge Vilda Dismissed

A World Cup Title Becomes Tainted
Flag of Spain image from Unsplash
Flag of Spain image from Unsplash

Jorge Vilda, the coach of Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s soccer team was dismissed on Sept. 5th. This happened less than three weeks after the victory celebration that led to the suspension of the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for kissing a player without consent. 

Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF, forcibly kissed forward Jennifer Hermoso on August 20. CNN reports that Rubiales has apologized for his actions and described the kiss as “mutual” which Hermoso has denied, saying she was “not respected.” He was handed a 90-day suspension by FIFA and disciplinary proceedings are underway. The Royal Spanish Soccer Federation did not offer any immediate explanation for the dismissal. Instead, they praised Jorge Vilda by saying he was “key to the notable growth of women’s soccer” and thanked him for leading the national women’s team to their first World Cup title. This made the team No. 2 in the FIFA rankings.

Hours after Vilda was dismissed, the RFEF announced he would be replaced by his assistant manager, Montse Tomé. She became the first woman to hold the role in Spain. Following the team’s victories against the Netherlands and Sweden in the World Cup quarter finals and semifinals, several videos went viral on social media of what appeared to be cold reactions from some of Spain’s players towards Vilda and his staff. One clip showed Vilda trying to celebrate with a handful of players following the win over the Netherlands, only to appear to be ignored.

The players’ dissatisfaction dates back beyond September of last year. According to AP News, 15 members of the senior women’s squad emailed personally signed letters to the RFEF by saying they would no longer play for the national team unless there were changes made to the coaching staff. Last year, many of the country’s top players refused to play under Vilda, who they said was too controlling NPR reports. Three of those players ended up on the World Cup roster, but others stayed home as Spain’s team marched to its first title in the tournament.

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Vilda and Spain’s men’s national team coach Luis de la Fuente were both seen applauding Rubiales’ speech to the Spanish federation in the days after the World Cup in which he refused to resign. Both would later issue statements condemning him. The RFEF’s interim president, Pedro Rocha, released a statement apologizing for Rubiales’ conduct. 

“We feel deeply sorry for the damage caused; and therefore, from this RFEF, we must apologize most sincerely and acquire a firm and absolute commitment that events like these can never happen again,” the statement continued.

The new coach of Spain’s women’s team, Montse Tomé, had to delay the announcement of her first squad Friday after most of the country’s players maintained their boycott of the national team as part of their fight against sexism in soccer. Tomé was set to announce her squad on Friday. However, 20 minutes before she was supposed to hold a news conference, the RFEF said it was postponed to a time to be determined. They went on to say that the players had rejected their attempts to convince them to return to the team early on Friday. Tomé is now left with the decision of whether to call up the players revolting, or select an entirely different team for upcoming Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on Sept. 22 and 26.

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