Fifteen female players are expected to leave the Spanish national team after their demand for a manager change was rejected by the Spanish federation on Thursday.
The federation said it had received identical emails from the 15 players saying they would relinquish their place on the team if coach Jorge Vilda was not fired. The federation said that, according to the players, the situation had “significant” impact on their “emotional state” and their health.
The federation did not comment on the “situation” or name the players who had asked the question. Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas was not among them, according to Spanish media.
“The federation will not allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, as that is not their responsibility,” the federation said in a statement, adding that it would “not accept any pressure from any player.” concede” when it comes to sporting decisions.
“Maneuvers of this kind are harmful and do not fit within the values of football and sport,” the federation said.
It noted in its statement that, under Spanish law, not accepting a call-up from a national team is considered a serious offense that could lead to penalties ranging from two to five years. The federation said it would not demand those sanctions against the players, but would not re-select them unless they “admit their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.
“This is more than a sporting issue, it’s a question of dignity,” the federation said. “This is an unprecedented situation in the history of football, for both men and women, in Spain and worldwide.”
It said the national team “needs committed players who will proudly defend the colors of the Spanish jersey.”
Vilda told Spanish media that some locker room codes had been broken by the players, but did not proceed.
The players recently said in a press conference that they wanted to see some changes in the national team, but had not called for Vilda’s resignation.
The federation president, Luis Rubiales, is known as a hardliner and is often at odds with other football officials in Spain. Not long after taking over the federation’s presidency, he fired national coach Julen Lopetegui a few days before the 2018 World Cup because Lopetegui took a job at Real Madrid without informing the federation in advance.
Vilda took over the women’s team in 2015 to replace Ignacio Quereda, who was later accused of verbal abuse by some players.
Spain lost to England this year in the quarter-finals of the Women’s European Championshipwhere the Lionesses will win the tournament.