Jenni Hermoso has not been included in Spain’s first squad since winning the Women’s World Cup, but 15 of her teammates from the triumph in Australia were called up despite the announcement of a boycott.
A group of 81 players, including all 23 members of the World Cup squad, said three weeks ago that they would no longer play for Spain as long as Luis Rubiales remained president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) because of his behavior at the final. Rubiales caused major controversy after kissing Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony following the team’s 1-0 win over England. Hermoso insists that she did not consent to the kiss.
Under increasing pressure, Rubiales finally resigned from his post last week, but 39 players, including 21 of Spain’s World Cup winners, issued a statement on Friday saying that was not enough to trigger their return to the national team. The players said they were not yet “in a safe place” to return and that the problems at the RFEF ran much deeper than at Rubiales.
However, Montse Tomé, who replaced Jorge Vilda as head coach after he was sacked amid the Rubiales affair, has now included 15 of the world champions in her 23-man squad for the upcoming Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland.
In some circles the move was seen as an attempt by Tomé, who was Vilda’s assistant for five years, and the federation to end the boycott. Posting on Twitter, Switzerland and Atlético Madrid winger Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic wrote: “That’s crazy… how can you threaten your own player like that… call him to the national team when he said he wanted clear changes before he came back!” That’s sooooo disrespectful.”
At a press conference, Tomé emphasized that none of the players in her squad had asked not to be selected. She added that she had spoken to them but would not reveal what was discussed. “I have complete confidence in the players… I trust that the players are professionals. They are world champions, they love the job and I know they will be with us,” said Tomé. “It is the beginning of a new phase, the clock is ticking.”
Tomé suspected that Hermoso had been left out of the squad due to the extensive media attention she had received over the past month. “We stand by Jenni’s side,” said the head coach. “We believe this is the best way to protect her, but we are counting on Jenni.”
If the Spanish players refuse their call-up, they face sanctions including fines of up to 30,000 euros (£25,860) and the suspension of their association license for two to 15 years.