Today, nearly half of what would have been the expected roster of the Spain women’s national soccer team indicated that they wished not to be made available for selection for national-team duty.
This is a Spain team which has been on the rise in Europe the last few years, making the final four of the UEFA championship, losing to eventual champion England. Spain has boffo credentials in the sport, and has developed a first division which has the backing of teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Athletico Madrid.
And yet, somehow, the Spanish federation seems to find ways to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to women’s soccer. The women’s league had a late start this year because of a strike by referees, one which was resolved this month.
But the simmering tensions between the national team and head coach Jorge Vilda have been constant since at least late August. Vilda has been accused of being autocratic in his coaching of the team, and reports have said that individuals have lost confidence in the coach, and that there was a split in the locker room.
The Royal Football Federation of Spain, however, has doubled down with Vilda.
“The RFEF is not going to allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, since making those decisions does not fall within their powers,” it said in a statement today. “The Federation will not admit any type of pressure from any player when adopting sports measures. These types of maneuvers are far from exemplary and outside the values of football and sport and are harmful.”
The lengthy statement went on to say this: “”The players who have submitted their resignation will only return to the discipline of the national team in the future if they accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness.”
That, to me, is counterproductive and treats the players like schoolchildren. It is not a good look.