Jennifer Hermoso, Spain’s FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning footballer and the player in the middle of the controversy that engulfed Spanish football after she was kissed on the lips by an official, has accused the federation of trying to intimidate the members of the winning team by picking them for the national team even though they asked not to be called up.
Hermoso, who said she did not consent to the kiss by former football federation president Luis Rubiales during the World Cup awards ceremony last month, 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”.
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The players had said they would not come back until their demands for deep reforms and new leadership in the federation were met, but new coach Montse Tome picked 15 of the players who helped Spain win its first Women’s World Cup.
Tome said she left Hermoso off the list as a way to protect her.
“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.
On Monday, the players said they were caught by surprise by the call-up and did not plan to end their boycott.
However, the Spanish government said the striking players would be punished if they did not attend their national team camp.
Victor Francos, the president of Spain’s High Council for Sports (CSD), said he would have to apply the country’s sports law in the absence of the selected players.
“If they don’t turn up, the government would have to apply the law, which is a pity for me, but the law is the law,” Francos told radio station Cadena Ser.
Spain’s sports law from 2022 states that athletes must attend the call-ups of the national teams when summoned, and not doing so would be a “very serious” infraction.
‘Strategy of division’
“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.”
The players said on Monday that the call-up was not made in accordance with current FIFA regulations, and some of the players, especially those abroad, would not be able to show up in time.
Some of those players did report for training on Tuesday under the threat of being sanctioned.
Among the players’ demands was for interim president Pedro Rocha also to resign, and for the women’s team staff to be overhauled.
Spain will play the UEFA Women’s Nations League games against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland on September 26.