Spain’s women footballers say boycott remains despite call-up after World Cup kiss scandal

Spain's women footballers say boycott remains despite call-up after World Cup kiss scandal

Spain’s women footballers have insisted again they will not play for the national side.

It comes after 15 players who were in the World Cup-winning squad were selected by the new head coach for the upcoming Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland, with training to begin tomorrow.

They have stopped short of saying they will not play in the matches but pointed to a previous statement saying they would not play for their country.

The statement came hours after it was revealed Jenni Hermoso had not been picked in Spain’s first squad since the World Cup kiss scandal erupted.

The players said they would study the “possible legal consequences” to which Spain’s football association exposes them and make the “best decision” for their future and health.

Should they refuse, the players could face sanctions including fines of up €30,000 ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years, according to Spain’s Sports Act.

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Hermoso left out Spanish squad ‘to protect her’

Montse Tome, the new head coach, said she had talked to Hermoso, 33, and decided not to include her in order to “protect her”.

Hermoso was kissed on the lips by Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales after the country won the Women’s World Cup.

Rubiales’ behaviour caused a huge crisis, with Hermoso insisting she did not consent to the kiss.

The incident happened during celebrations after the national side beat England 1-0 in the Sydney final on 20 August, with the whole World Cup-winning team then going on strike in protest.

Jennifer Hermoso  is kissed by president of the RFEF Luis Rubiales during the FIFA Womens World Cup 2023 Final football match
Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final

On Monday Tome said she had spoken to all the World Cup-winning players who she picked and expected them to report to training camp on Tuesday.

She said no player had asked not to be called up.

Tome, who was an assistant at the Women’s World Cup to ex-coach Jorge Vilda, did not say whether it was Hermoso who asked not to be called up.

Also missing are captain Ivana Andres, Irene Guerrero, Mariona Caldentey, Laia Codina, Alba Redondo, Rocio Galvez and Claudia Zornoza.

Jennifer Hermoso pictured during the Women's World Cup final in Sydney
Jenni Hermoso had a penalty saved during the Women’s World Cup final

The team has called for wide-ranging reforms and new leadership as Rubiales initially refused to resign before later quitting on 10 September.

Last Friday, 21 of the 23 Spanish players involved in the tournament – including Hermoso – said his resignation was not enough to trigger their return to national-team duty, and they demanded further change in the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

“The changes made are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximise our potential,” they wrote.

That same day, Rubiales was given a restraining order after sexual assault allegations by Hermoso following the kiss.

A judge banned the former president of the Spanish FA from contacting the player or going within 200m of her.

Read more:
Who is Luis Rubiales?
What did Rubiales and Hermoso say in kiss row?

Former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales arrives at the high court in Madrid, Spain - September 15, 2023 REUTERS/Susana Vera
Luis Rubiales has been given a restraining order

‘We stand with Jenni’

Tome suggested Hermoso would return to the team in the future.

“We stand with Jenni,” Tome told a news conference. “We believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni.

“I believe this was the best way to protect her.”