Spain’s women’s team coach Jorge Vilda said he hasn’t considered resigning after 15 players refused to play for the side while he remains in charge, calling the situation “a farce.”
The 15 internationals emailed the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) last week to say they did not wish to be considered for selection — just 10 months before the 2023 World Cup — as the situation around the national team was affecting their emotional state and mental health.
Vilda named his latest squad on Friday for Spain’s games against Sweden and the United States next month.
None of the 15 rebel players were included in a list which featured six players who have not previously played for their country, while captain Irene Paredes and Spain’s record goalscorer Jenni Hermoso were also left out.
“I wouldn’t wish what I’m going through on anyone,” Vilda said in a defiant news conference on Friday. “A lack of clarity in the message from the players has led people to believe there are non-sporting issues here… I’d ask every player I’ve coached, if anyone can say they haven’t been treated well, to come out and say it.
“At no time have I thought [about resigning]. I’ve been working towards this for a long time.”
The conflict within the squad first boiled over in August, when a number of senior players voiced concerns over Vilda’s management style and approach in meetings with the coach and RFEF president Luis Rubiales.
Vilda kept his job, leading 15 players — six from Barcelona, two from Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Manchester United and Manchester City, and one from Club America — to send emails last week formally notifying the RFEF that they did not wish to be selected.
The federation hit back with a strongly worded statement, calling the situation “unprecedented in football history,” saying they would “not allow the players to question the continuity of the national team coach” and said the players would only be allowed to return in future if they apologised.
“This is a farce, on the world stage,” Vilda said. “It’s hurting women’s football. I can’t see any other solution than to look at this squad and look forward. I’m with those players who want to be part of this national team.”
Other key players who were not among the original 15, including Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas — recovering from a long-term knee injury — and forward Hermoso have since released statements backing the players’ stance and calling for change.
“For me, the solution is the 23 players who I’ve called up,” Vilda said. “I’m only going to talk about the players who are here. We need to have a bit of memory and a bit of calm.
“My phone is available 24/7 for everyone, whatever they need… The players need to reflect on this and think about what they’ve done.”
Vilda, 41, took charge of the Spain national team in 2015 having previously coached the under-17s and U19s.
Spain were among the favourites to win Euro 2022 but were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage by eventual winners England, beaten 2-1 after extra time.