A full-blown mutiny, that of 15 players of the Spanish national team who have announced that they will no longer wear the “Roja” shirt as long as the current coach Jorge Vilda will be on the bench, in whom the Iberian football federation has renewed confidence. Each of them wrote to the RFF insisting that the situation with the coach, who they had already tried to blow up in late August, affects their health and their emotional state, and that they have no plans to return to the national team until when they won’t drive him out. The aut of the 15 national teams – Ainhoa Moraza, Lucía García, Leila Ouahabi, Mapi León, Claudia Pina, Laia Aleixandri, Ona Batlle, Andrea Pereira, Aitana Bonmatí, Sandra Paños, Amaiur Sarriegi, Lola Gallardo, Nerea Eizaguirre, Mariona Caldentey and Patri Guijarro – the football federation did not like it which, on the other hand, reacted harshly, describing the mutiny as “unprecedented in the history of football”, a situation that “goes beyond sport and becomes a question of dignity”.
The Football Association has no intention of giving in to pressure and stressed that refusing to play for the national team could result in a two to five year ban. In any case, he added, the 15 players will no longer be called until “they admit the mistake and apologize”. The Federation intends to deploy the youth teams if necessary.
In the emails, the footballers stressed that the current situation affects “their emotional state” and “their health” in a “significant way”, and that they renounce the selection, “until the situation is fixed”.
The tensions related to the reconfirmation of the coach have actually been going on for several weeks and now the situation has precipitated a few days before the next friendlies of the women’s Roja (fresh from the elimination in the quarterfinals at the European Championships in July), against Sweden on 7 October and against the United States on 11 October.
The letters arrive three weeks after an initial mutiny, in which three footballers, Irene Paredes, Patri Guijarro and Jenni Hermoso had expressed their dissatisfaction with Vilda at the top of the Spanish football association, and facing the same coach Vilda who however refused to resign. Vilda said he was “wounded in the way of proceeding”, claiming to be a person “in favor of dialogue and always available to talk.” Among the fifteen mutineers there is not the star Alexa Putellas, struggling with the recovery from the injury suffered on the eve of the European Championship, nor Irene Paredes and Jenni Hermoso, also injured and unavailable for the upcoming rally, nor are the Real Madrid footballers.
Megan Rapinoe, Ballon d’Or in 2019, gave her support to the fifteen rebels: “a sixteenth player is by your side in the United States”, wrote the American national team on his Instagram account.
In its statement, the federation specifies that players can be sanctioned if they do not honor a selection, but argues that “it will not go to this extreme, and it will not put any pressure on them”. But, warns the RFEF less than a year before the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the athletes “can only return to the selection if they admit their mistake and apologize”.