Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s team coach, Jorge Vilda, has been relieved of his duties, as announced by the country’s football federation (RFEF) on Tuesday, following a turbulent period that saw FIFA suspend its president for an incident involving a kiss shared with national team player Jenni Hermoso.
A newly appointed board, put in place after the suspension of RFEF President Luis Rubiales by FIFA over the alleged non-consensual kiss during the World Cup victory celebration two weeks ago, has decided to terminate Vilda’s contract.
While the RFEF’s statement provided no specific reason for his dismissal and did not reference Hermoso, Rubiales, or the scandal, it did acknowledge the 42-year-old Vilda for his “extraordinary sporting legacy.”
“The coach has been key to the remarkable growth of women’s football and leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings,” the RFEF statement noted.
The controversy surrounding Rubiales has ignited a nationwide discussion on women’s rights and sexist behavior.
In a separate statement by interim President Pedro Rocha, the RFEF offered apologies for Rubiales’s “inappropriate conduct.”
“The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society, and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous,” the three-page statement signed by Rocha expressed.
Vilda, known as a close associate of Rubiales, had faced criticism since last year when 15 players staged a mutiny, calling for his resignation due to alleged inadequate coaching methods and demanding conditions on par with the men’s squad. Most of these players were subsequently removed from the squad, even though some of their demands were met.
Danae Boronat, a sports presenter and author of “Don’t Call Them Girls, Call Them Footballers,” interviewed Spain’s leading female players and revealed that players accused Vilda of micromanaging, including instructing senior players on what to say in interviews.
Both Vilda and Luis de la Fuente, the men’s national team manager, initially supported Rubiales when he refused to resign on August 25 but later issued statements condemning his behavior.
Rubiales had initially praised Vilda for the World Cup victory and offered him a new four-year contract with an increased annual salary, from 160,000 euros to 500,000 euros ($536,000).
In response to these developments, Spain’s top 58 female players had declared their unwillingness to play for the national team under the existing leadership. An RFEF source indicated last week that players were being consulted to determine whether Vilda’s removal would alter this stance.
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