Sports

Spanish Football Federation Threatening World Cup-Winning Players, Says Jenni Hermoso

Nearly half of the 39 Spain players who said they would not play for the national team were named in the squad on Monday

Jenni Hermoso (right) talks with a teammate before a Mexican league match.
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Spain forward Jenni Hermoso has accused the Spanish football federation of trying to intimidate the FIFA World Cup-winning players by picking them for the national team even though they asked not to be called up. (More Football News)

Hermoso, the player in the middle of the controversy that has engulfed Spanish football after ousted federation president Luis Rubiales kissed her on the lips after the FIFA World Cup final, said on Tuesday that the federation's decision to call up nearly half of the 39 players who said they would not play for the national team as a protest was “irrefutable proof” that “nothing has changed.”

The players had said they wouldn't come back until their demands for deep reforms and new leadership in the federation were met, but new coach Montse Tome on Tuesday picked 15 of the players who helped Spain win its first Women's World Cup last month.

Tome left Hermoso off the list “as a way to protect her,” she said.

“Protect me from what?” Hermoso said. “A claim was made stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin, yet at the same press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me.”

Tome said she talked to Hermoso and to the other players, and said she was confident that they would all report to training camp on Tuesday.

The players said Monday that they were caught by surprise by the call-up and did not plan to end their boycott.
The squad announcement had been originally planned for Friday, but was postponed because no agreement had been reached with the players.

On Monday, the federation released a statement in which it publicly reiterated to the players its commitment to structural changes.

“The people who now ask us to trust them are the same ones who disclosed the list of players who have asked not to be called up," Hermoso said.

“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions.”

According to Spanish sports law, athletes are required to answer the call of their national teams unless there are circumstances that impede them from playing, such as an injury. 

The players said Monday they would study the possible legal consequences of not reporting to the training camp, but said they believed the federation could not force them to join the team. 

They argued that the call-up was not made in accordance with current International Federation of Association Football regulations, and some of the players, especially those abroad, would not be able to show up in time.

“I want to once again show my full support to my colleagues who have been caught by surprise and forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within (the federation),” Hermoso said. “This is why we are fighting and why we are doing it in this way.”

Among the players' demands was for interim president Pedro Rocha also to resign, and for the women's team staff to be overhauled.

Last year, 15 players rebelled against former coach Jorge Vilda asking for a more professional environment. Tome, an assistant to Vilda at the World Cup, included in her first list some of the players who rebelled.

Spain will play the UEFA Women's Nations League matches against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland on September 26.

(With AP inputs)

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