Spain soccer federation fires Women’s World Cup-winning head coach amid president’s controversy
Spain’s soccer federation fired women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda on Tuesday amid the ongoing controversy surrounding suspended president Luis Rubiales.
Vilda’s dismissal comes less than three weeks after Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in the squad’s history. However, it was the celebration from Rubiales afterward that has drawn global attention and sparked national outrage.
Rubiales received a 90-day suspension from FIFA after he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips and was seen in the crowd celebrating the win with a crotch grab. Rubiales declined to resign from his post as he faced calls to step down. Instead, he was banned and is facing a Spanish government case against him.
Vilda was among those who applauded Rubiales’ speech. He later called Rubiales’ behavior improper and said that the drama tarnished the Women’s World Cup victory. Rubiales took aim at “false feminists” in his speech.
Interim soccer president Pedro Rocha apologized in a letter for Rubiales’ behavior. Rocha said the federation had the responsibility to ask for “the most sincere apologies to the soccer world as a whole,” as well as soccer institutions, fans, players – especially of the women’s national team – “for the totally unacceptable behavior of its highest representative.”
“In no way his behavior represents the values of Spanish society as a whole, its institutions, its representatives, its athletes and the Spanish sports leaders,” Rocha wrote.
Vilda was the head coach of the team despite a major issue about 10 months before the World Cup kicked off. More than a dozen players signed a letter complaining about Vilda and the conditions for the national team. Players insisted they did not want Vilda’s dismissal. However, through the controversy, Spain persevered and now has a chance at glory. Several players quit at the time and were not on the championship-winning team.
Hermoso said initially she “did not enjoy” the kiss and then downplayed the incident, telling Spanish media that it was “no big deal.” After Rubiales called critics “idiots,” Hermoso released a lengthy statement calling the kiss not consensual.
“The situation shocked me given the celebrations that were taking place at the moment, and with the passage of time and after delving a little deeper into those initial feelings, I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports, or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviors,” Hermoso’s statement read. “I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.
“Simply put, I was not respected.”
Hermosos said she was asked to “alleviate the pressure” on Rubiales but was focused on the World Cup win. She added she was under pressure to continue to make a statement to “justify” Rubiales’ actions.
She made clear she had “ZERO TOLERANCE” for Rubiales’ behavior.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.