Confusion in Spain after boycotting players called up by new women’s coach

<span>Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

There was confusion in Spain on Monday night as to whether members of the women’s national team would turn up after Montse Tomé, the new head coach, named 15 of the World Cup‑winning players in her squad for Nations League fixtures this month.

Jenni Hermoso, who was kissed after the final victory against England by the then president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), leading to the crisis, was not among those picked. But despite 39 players making themselves unavailable for selection for the national team in an open letter to the Spanish football federation (RFEF) on Friday, which said not enough was being done to make them feel safe and respected, 21 of those players have been called up by Tomé.

“I trust that the players are professionals, they come from being world champions, they love the profession, being in the Spanish team is a privilege, and I know that they will be with us tomorrow,” the coach said.

The federation put out a statement before the squad announcement, saying: “It’s clear that the federation, society and the players are aligned with the same objective: the renovation and the start of a new stage where football will be benefited by this whole process.”

It added: “We guarantee a safe environment for the players, and we are committed to an environment of mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women’s football continues to progress much stronger.”

However, any conciliatory tone was undone by the unveiling of Tomé’s squad to face Sweden and Switzerland, with players not having been consulted before their inclusion, according to the Spanish media.

Initial reports suggested the players would report for training on Tuesday morning because of the threat of legal action and having their playing licences suspended by the federation.

However, a statement in the name of the players was posted on Twitter, now known as X, saying: “The call-up has not been made in a timely manner, in accordance with the regulations … so we understand that the RFEF is not in a position to require us to attend.”

A group of 81 players, including all 23 members of the World Cup squad, said three weeks ago that they would not play for Spain again while Luis Rubiales remained RFEF president because of his behaviour at the final and without big changes in the federation. Rubiales caused a huge controversy after kissing Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony following the team’s 1-0 victory over England then lifted aloft Athenea del Castillo; separately he was seen grabbing his crotch. Hermoso insists she did not consent to the kiss. Amid increasing pressure, Rubiales finally resigned from his post last week.

Spain’s head coach at the World Cup, Jorge Vilda, was sacked by the federation as it looked to limit the damage done by the events around the final. Vilda had been the subject of a player mutiny last year when 15 pulled out of contention for selection saying the environment around the national team was impacting their health.