Spain’s World Cup winners to end boycott after federation promises ‘profound changes’ amid kiss row
Spain’s women players to end boycott after ‘profound changes’ promised, following a row over the now former boss of Spain's football association, Luis Rubiales, kissing footballer Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup presentation ceremony.
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Spain’s World Cup winning-squad have agreed to end their boycott of the national team after the country’s football federation (RFEF) said it would commit to making ‘profound changes’ to its structure, according to National Sports Council (CSD) president Victor Francos.
A decision was reached in the early hours of Wednesday morning (September 20) following a seven-hour meeting between the players, women’s players’ union FUTPRO, RFEF officials and the CSD in a hotel in Oliva, about an hour from Valencia.
For the Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland, new head coach Montse Tome named 15 players from the group from this summer's tournament to his roster on Monday.
However, after former president Luis Rubiales kissed Spain forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony in Australia, 21 of the 23 players there had already said they would not play for their nation again until significant changes had been made inside the RFEF.
Later on Wednesday, the RFEF reportedly clarified the "profound changes" Francos had alluded to and "dispensed with the services" of Andreu Camps, its general secretary.
A lengthy statement read: “The RFEF is aware of the absolute need to start a new stage and close the institutional crisis that opened after the national team’s victory in the World Cup.
“The Federation wants to show its support to all the internationals who are going through these unwanted circumstances; and reiterates its apologies for what happened after the World Cup victory to each of them and, in particular, to Jenni Hermoso, immersed in a situation that she did not create. We will always support them.
“It is important to point out, given the events of the last few hours, that at no time has it been the intention of the RFEF to provide more noise and pressure on the players.”
The statement added: “During the last few days we have reiterated our public commitment to make structural changes to begin this new, absolutely necessary stage that respects criteria of good governance, transparency and equality.
“We understand that the players need to feel that the Federation is their home, a safe environment where they can show their professionalism and sporting quality while displaying the privilege of representing Spain.
“The steps taken so far by the current leadership of the RFEF have always sought this objective. However, we recognise that until yesterday we have not managed to create a climate of trust with the internationals.
“We have accelerated the changes planned by the Federation and we have communicated this decision to both the CSD and the international players. Spanish football deserves absolute recognition, and all of us who are part of it must unite to achieve it.”
The statement comes following the possible threat of sanctions to the squad for refusing to play for their country.
“We’ve had several meetings that were conducted in an extremely cordial atmosphere in which people were able to speak freely,” Francos said, according to Spanish sports newspaper AS, earlier on Wednesday.
“We covered all issues. In terms of conclusions: firstly, we’ve reached a series of agreements that will be signed tomorrow by the RFEF and the CSD.
“Furthermore, a mixed commission will be created involving three parties – the federation, the CSD and the players – to monitor the (implementation) of those agreements, which are related to the development of Spain’s sports law in terms of gender policies, pay equality and furthering the infrastructure of women’s sport.
“The players also conveyed to us the need to make profound changes (in personnel at the RFEF). These changes are to happen immediately, and will be announced by the RFEF.”
The players had unwillingly reported for duty on Tuesday despite threats of fines or suspensions for "unjustified lack of attendance" under Spanish sports legislation; Hermoso had also accused the RFEF of intimidating the players in her own statement on Tuesday.
The boycott was eventually lifted, albeit two players will leave the camp before Friday's match in Sweden, following lengthy negotiations between the players, RFEF, and CSD representatives.
The RFEF also announced that the men's and women's Spanish national teams would now use the same identity and logo, which is translated as "Spanish national team" as Seleccion Espanola de Futbol.