LAS ROZAS: Spain’s new women’s football team coach Montse Tome on Monday selected most of the players who last month won the Women’s World Cup for fixtures against Sweden and Switzerland in an apparent bid to force them to end their boycott.
The revolt by the players followed a kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso by the country’s football federation (RFEF) boss Luis Rubiales after Spain won the World Cup.
She disputed his insistence the kiss was consensual, sparking a national debate about macho culture in the sport.
Hermoso was not on the list announced on Monday, which included 15 of the 23 cup-winning squad plus two players – Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro – who were not called up for the finals after signing an open letter against then-coach Jorge Vilda.
The players have not said if they will end their boycott, sources told Reuters, after several only found out they were in the squad via media reports. A source close to three players said they had been surprised by the call-up.
Another source close to four other players told Reuters they were seeking legal advice to decide whether to report to the squad on Tuesday, afraid of the threat of punishment.
Should they refuse the call-up, the players could face sanctions including fines of up €30,000 (US$32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years according to Spain’s Sports Act.
Tome, who was Vilda’s assistant for five years, told a press conference none of the players had asked not to be selected, adding that she had spoken to them but declining to reveal what was discussed.
When asked if she was confident all those on the list would answer the call to play, she said: “I have every confidence in the players … I trust that the players are professionals.
“They come from being world champions, they love the profession and I know they will be here with us tomorrow.”
“It’s the start of a new phase, the clock is ticking,” she added.
On Friday, a group of 39 players – including 21 out of the 23 in the cup-winning squad – said they wanted further changes at the football federation as Rubiales’s resignation and the replacement of Vilda were not enough for them to return.
Twenty out of the 39 were in the squad for matches against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland next Tuesday in Spain’s debut in the UEFA Nations League, a competition that will determine which European teams qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
An original group of 81 players had called the boycott in the wake of the furore over Rubiales’ kiss.
Tome suggested Hermoso was left out of the squad because of the intense media attention she had received in the past month.
“We stand with Jenni … we believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni,” Tome said.
Earlier on Monday, the federation said in a statement it was convinced of the need for “structural changes” and had to clarify who was responsible for the behaviour the players had brought to light.