Spanish women refuse to play for ‘toxic’ Vilda; RFEF responds with 5-year ban threat

September 23 – Fifteen players from Spain’s women’s squad have refused to play for their country unless manager Jorge Vilda is sacked but the Spanish football federation (RFEF) is standing by its man.

News broke of the players’ demands late on Thursday, claiming Vilda has created a toxic culture that is affecting performances.

Vilda has been the national team coach since 2015 and led his side to the quarter-finals of Euro 22, where the pre-tournament favourites lost in extra time to eventual winners England.

The RFEF released a defiant statement backing Vilda in the face of player power and suggesting those who submitted resignations could be banned from the national team for up to five years.

“The RFEF can confirm that, throughout today, we received 15 emails from 15 players of the women’s senior football team… in which they state that the current situation affects ‘significantly’ their emotional state and their health and that, ‘as long as it is not reversed’, they resign from the Spanish national team,” the statement said.

“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 warned refusing to play for the national team was “a very serious infraction and can carry sanctions of between two and five years of disqualification” and went on to add: “The Federation will only have committed footballers even if they have to play with youth.”

“This fact has gone from being a sporting issue to a dignity issue. The selection is non-negotiable. It is an unprecedented situation in the history of football, both male and female, in Spain and worldwide.

“The national team needs players committed to the project, defending our colours and proud to wear the Spain shirt.”

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