Saturday December 09, 2023

Two players exit Spain football team camp amidst ongoing RFEF reforms

Following overnight negotiations between players and Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Victor Francos said agreements had been reached

By Web Desk
September 21, 2023
Spains midfielder Patri Guijarro (L) and defender Mapi Leon told reporters they were not in the right state to play in the upcoming games. AFP/File
Spain's midfielder Patri Guijarro (L) and defender Mapi Leon told reporters they were not in the right state to play in the upcoming games. AFP/File

Most of Spain's women's national team have chosen to continue with the squad, while two players have opted to leave, according to the government's announcement today. 

The decision comes after a recent strike by the World Cup-winning team, triggered by the former president of the football federation, Luis Rubiales, forcibly kissing a player.

Following overnight negotiations between the players and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Victor Francos, the secretary of state for sports, revealed that agreements had been reached, with formal documentation to be signed shortly. However, two of the 23 initially called-up players, Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro, decided not to continue with the squad.

Both Leon and Guijarro were among 15 players who initiated a strike before the World Cup, expressing dissatisfaction with the methods of the then-national coach, Jorge Vilda, and other federation-related concerns. Neither of them participated in the victorious World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand, and they cited not being in the right mental state to compete in upcoming matches as their reason for departure.

The remaining players conducted their first training session under new coach Montse Tome on Wednesday. Alexia Putellas, a two-time Ballon d'Or winner, clarified that her decision to stay was not solely based on comfort.

The RFEF issued a "declaration of principles" in which they apologised again to the players, including Jenni Hermoso, the player who was forcibly kissed by Rubiales. The federation pledged to adhere to governance, transparency, and equality as key principles and expedited additional agreed-upon changes.

One immediate change was the removal of general secretary Andreu Camps, a figure whom players had demanded be replaced.

The strike by the majority of players revolved around their demand for reforms within the RFEF, raising concerns about their participation in the upcoming Nations League games, which could affect their chances of competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the lead-up to the agreement, players gathered for a training camp, even though they had declared themselves unavailable, out of fear of potential sanctions.

Secretary of state for sport, Victor Francos, reassured that those not playing would not face penalties, alleviating concerns of fines and potential license suspension for up to five years, including at the club level.

Valencia's Claudia Florentina will replace Mapi Leon in the squad, while a substitute for Patri Guijarro is yet to be named.

In another significant development, the RFEF has decided to align the branding of the women's team with that of the men's team, both being referred to as the "Spanish national football team."

The players' decision to stand up for women's football reforms has garnered widespread praise, including support from opponents, Sweden. 

Former Real Madrid player and Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso remarked that future generations would remember the women's team for their fight.

The controversy unfolded after Spain's World Cup win on August 20, when former president Rubiales forcibly kissed Hermoso during the trophy presentation. Rubiales eventually resigned three weeks later, and coach Jorge Vilda was dismissed, leading to the players demanding significant structural changes.

Spain is scheduled to face Sweden on Friday and Switzerland on September 26.