SPAIN’S women’s national team have agreed to end their boycott after the football federation (RFEF) promised to carry out reforms within the organisation.
The team won their country’s first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup title in Australia on August 20 but that triumph was overshadowed by RFEF president Luis Rubiales’ conduct at the medal presentation ceremony as he kissed Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth without her consent and grabbed his crotch in a lewd celebratory gesture.
The world champions agreed to end the boycott this morning after the RFEF said it would make ‘immediate and profound changes’ to its structure following more than seven hours of meetings involving the players, RFEF officials, the National Sports Council (CSD) and the women’s players’ union FUTPRO.
The players had said they would not represent their country until there were further changes at the federation, even after Rubiales was forced to resign and head coach Jorge Vilda was sacked.
“A joint commission will be created between RFEF, CSD and players to follow up on the agreements, which will be signed tomorrow,” CSD President Victor Francos told reporters today.
“The players have expressed their concern about the need for profound changes in the RFEF, which has committed to making these changes immediately.”
Neither Francos nor Rafael del Amo, president of the RFEF committee for women’s football, disclosed the changes to be made.
“The players see it as a rapprochement of positions. It is the beginning of a long road ahead of us,” FUTPRO president Amanda Gutierrez told reporters.
“Once again, they have shown themselves to be coherent and the vast majority have decided to stay for the sake of this agreement.”
After most of the Women’s World Cup winners were selected for upcoming games, the players said in a joint statement they would take the ‘best decision’ for their future and health after they studied the legal implications of being included in a squad list they had asked to be left out.
They argued the federation could not force them to play because they alleged the call-ups were not issued within FIFA parameters in terms of timing and procedure.
The players could have faced fines of up to €30,000 and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years according to Spain’s Sports Act if they had refused the call-up.
Twenty players who said they were boycotting the team were called up by new coach Montse Tome, and while all of them reported for training on Tuesday two decided to leave the squad for ‘personal reasons’.
Neither of the players would be sanctioned and it was agreed their identities would remain anonymous.
“The first thing they have been told here has been: whoever is not at ease, does not feel strong enough, should know that neither the federation nor the CSD was going to apply a sanctioning process,” Francos said.
Hermoso was not in the squad list announced on Monday and accused the RFEF of trying to divide and manipulate the players.
Spain are set to make their debut in the Women’s Nations League against Sweden in Gothenburg on Friday before playing against Switzerland in Cordoba on Sept. 26.
The Nations League will determine which teams from Europe qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.