The Rubiales case and the crisis in Spanish football are far from being resolved. Even now that Spain already has a list of 23 called up for the next Nations League matches: against Sweden this Friday the 22nd and against Switzerland on Tuesday the 26th. Nobody seems to be certain, however, that all 23 will appear this Tuesday in Las Rozas. The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the Spanish players, who issued a statement last Friday demanding profound changes within the institution, are measuring their strength in a battle that still has no end. This is deduced from the call of the new coach, Montse Tomé, who has summoned the majority of World Cup players and announced this Monday the return of footballers such as Mapi León and Patri Guijarro, two of the most belligerent in the crisis of las 15 -when fifteen footballers resigned from the national team if there were no structural changes in the women’s team- and he made it believe in his subsequent speech that the federation had finally reached an agreement with the players. It is not like this.
The RFEF understands that the soccer players are eligible because at no time did they express in writing their refusal to wear the La Roja shirt: “They showed their discomfort, they demanded a series of changes, but they did not resign from the national team,” they point out from Las Rozas. And, since according to the Sports Law you have to respond to the selection’s call, the federation has called “the best.” “The best soccer players with whom we can face the matches of a new competition that prepares us to be in the Olympic Games,” in the words of Tomé, who used concepts such as empathy, trust or communication in the press conference, which he claimed to have spoke with the players and declared: “We believe that the way to help them is to be close to them and listen to them.”
On Tomé’s list, by the way, is not Jenni Hermoso, the forward who was kissed without her consent by the former president of the RFEF Luis Rubiales. “A new stage begins,” Montse Tomé has expressed on several occasions, explaining the absence of the forward: “We have believed that this is the best way to protect her.” The federation and the soccer players had approached positions in the last few hours regarding the athletes’ demands to improve their working conditions and put an end to the era of Rubiales and former coach Jorge Vilda at the head of the organization. However, neither the World Cup players responded to the latest offer from the federation chaired today by Pedro Rocha, nor have they spoken out after Tomé’s list was announced.
The call is as follows: as goalkeepers, Misa, Cata Coll and Enith Salon; defenses: Irene Paredes, Laia Aleixandri, María Méndez, Oihane Hernández, Olga Carmona, Ona Batlle, Mapi León; midfielders: Aitana Bonmatí, Alexia Putellas, Patri Guijarro, María Pérez, Tere Abelleira, Rosa Márquez; forwards: Athenea del Castillo, Esther González, Eva Navarro, Mariona Caldentey, Inma Gabarro, Amaiur Sarriegi and Lucía García. Three World Cup players who are injured have been left out, such as Ivana Andrés, Salma Paralluelo and Alba Redondo; and three others by technical decision: Rocío Galvez, Irene Guerrero, Laia Codina; in addition to Claudia Zornoza, who announced after the World Cup that she was leaving the national team.
The preparation of the list is framed in a latent crisis since the resignation of 15 players in September 2022 and accentuated after the kiss that former president Rubiales planted on Jenni Hermoso in the middle of the world title celebrations in Sydney. A few hours after winning the World Cup, the players began a plan that has lasted until now. And the RFEF responded this Monday with a new statement in which he insists on “the public commitment acquired by the new management of the institution that directs football in Spain”now in the hands of the interim president, Pedro Rocha, successor of the resigned Rubiales.
In a note that they had also sent to the players, the federation wanted this afternoon to “express clearly, and without internal or external interpretations, the strategic axes in this new stage of the federation that both football and society demand.” They are aware, they say, “of the need to make structural changes,” as the soccer players demand. Something that, they point out, Rocha has already begun to materialize in recent times and has led them to make “difficult decisions in recent days” because they are convinced that a renewal is “necessary.” For this reason, the statement adds, “the players are urged to join this change led by the Federation, understanding that the transformations that must continue must be solid and fair.”
The federation, through the new interlocutor in charge of resuming the conversations, Loli Martínez Madrona, referee and delegate for Protection of Sexual Violence at the RFEF, had given an ultimatum to the players this past weekend. They had to give an answer before the end of Sunday. But the clock struck 12 at night and in Las Rozas they still had no news about the soccer players. The players went to bed without having reached an agreement. And they decided to continue talking during the morning of this Monday, until reaching an alleged agreement, which has not materialized, before the announcement of the list of those summoned by Spain.
On the table, the soccer players had a proposal that the federation considers more than reasonable. And that they received willingly, although they lacked specificity and guarantees. “On Sunday they reached an agreement on what to do in all the departments that were involved in the management of Jenni Hermoso’s case. They verbally agreed that there will be changes and what those changes will be, but they asked for guarantees that this will be the case. They have been deceived many times before,” say sources close to the world champions. The players did not want to take a wrong step. That is why they asked that this agreement be in writing. They assume that dismissals and new appointments cannot be made overnight, but they want to be sure that they are not being deceived, as happened in their day when the 15 o’clock crisis was resolved without a firm commitment to change. They were put under pressure with the proximity of the World Cup and it worked. “But for them the World Cup was just a parenthesis. Now, they are even more united than then, even though some are trying to break that unity. The 39 that have stayed are going together,” the same sources state. They knew it was their moment and they didn’t want to waste it.
In addition to assuming that first point of the five that the national team players demanded, the remodeling “of the women’s football organization chart”, which should have, in addition to a coach, who will continue to be Montse Tomé, with a sports management and a person responsible for the lower categories, in the image and likeness of the structures of the men’s team, the federation tried to resolve the rest of the somewhat more complex issues. The players asked for a profound restructuring and, for now, only the coach Jorge Vilda has left, in addition to the president, forced to resign due to social and political pressure.
In the statement issued by the soccer players last Friday, they pointed out five points to a series of people and positions in the RFEF, demanding a clean bill of health. In the offices of Las Rozas they assume that some of these demands respond to what happened in the last month, to how some of the people closest to the now former president Luis Rubiales behaved and moved. For example, Rubén Riveira, director of marketing, and Albert Luque, sports director of the Spanish team, friend and right-hand man of Rubiales. Riviera and Luque traveled to Ibiza at the end of August to pressure Hermoso and other players to support the version of the then president. The federations understand that the players demand clarification of responsibilities in that sense. However, they point out many other names, known in the house, despite not having publicly given their names and surnames, and not in all of these cases it has been argued why they want them out, they explain from Las Rozas. They, however, consider that all of these identified positions were involved in one way or another in the management of the Rubiales case and the non-consensual kiss to Jenni Hermoso: in the published statements, the pressure on the player, her family and her teammates, in the discredit of the Madrid soccer player and her lack of protection in the face of a case of abuse of power. Other proper names come in here: Andreu Camps, general secretary, or Pablo García Cuervo, communications director, who were already very weakened in the eyes of the footballers after their management in the 15 crisis, due to their harshness towards those whom they in their day they were called rebels and called “liñatas”.
For this reason, because some believe they are victims of a settling of accounts, the federation has asked the players to identify those people they point out and to justify their accusations, so that a disciplinary file can be opened to verify said statements. accusations and try to resolve the problem. “You cannot fire a handful of people without first knowing exactly what happened,” say federal sources. Meanwhile, the RFEF has committed, from the outset, that none of these people appear for the concentrations of the women’s team, the first, imminent, before the celebration of the Nations League match against Sweden next Friday.
In the statement issued this Monday, which is the same one that has been transferred to the footballers, the federation concludes: “We guarantee a safe environment for the players and we are committed to a climate of mutual trust so that we can work together and achieve that women’s football continue to progress with much more strength. We must begin to show off the star that the internationals have achieved with so much effort.” This is how, with those words of harmony and with a public commitment to change, the federation has tried to resolve the crisis unleashed by the Rubiales case. It remains to be seen, however, if the 23 players respond to Tomé’s call.
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