Spain players to continue boycott as Rubiales is barred from any contact with Hermoso

World Cup winning squad demand more changes to RFEF while former president given restraining order by judge

Former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales and his lawyer Olga Tubau leave the Audiencia Nacional court in Madrid on September 15, 2023. AFP
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Almost all of Spain's women's World Cup squad said on Friday that the recent changes by the Spanish football federation did not go far enough for them to respond to a national call-up.

The statement came as the team's new coach Montse Tome was poised to announce the line-up for two upcoming international fixtures, which federation sources said would now be delayed.

“As we have informed the RFEF today, the changes put in place are not enough for the players to feel they are in a safe place where women are respected, where women's football is supported and where we can give our maximum performance,” they said in a statement released by the Futpro union.

The statement was signed by 39 players, among them 21 of the 23 players on the women's national squad.

Spanish football has been in turmoil since RFEF boss Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips in front of the world's media after Spain defeated England in the Women's World Cup final on August 20.

In the statement, the players expressed their “enormous dissatisfaction” with the events after the World Cup and at a RFEF meeting five days later at which a belligerent Rubiales said he would not resign, winning widespread applause.

On August 25, 81 Spain players, including the 23 world champions, released a statement saying they would not play for the national team without significant changes at the head of the federation.

Since then, the RFEF sacked their manager Jorge Vilda and named Tome as his replacement, becoming the first woman to hold the post, as well as pledging further internal reforms.

Despite weeks of resistance, Rubiales finally resigned late on Sunday and was in court in Madrid earlier on Friday on charges of sexual assault and coercion over the kiss and his subsequent behaviour towards Hermoso.

Tome had been due to announce the line-up for Spain's Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26.

Earlier on Friday, Rubiales appeared in court where he was quizzed by Judge Francisco de Jorge who is heading up the investigation into the kiss, which sparked international outrage and saw him brought up on sexual assault charges.

At the end of the closed-door hearing, in which Rubiales repeated his claim that the kiss was consensual, the judge ordered him not to come within 200 metres of Hermoso and barred him from any contact with the player.

At the weekend, the 46-year-old had described the kiss as “a spontaneous act, a mutual act, an act that both consented to, which was … 100 per cent non-sexual” in an interview with British broadcaster Piers Morgan.

Hermoso, 33, has insisted it was not, describing it as “an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part”.

Updated: September 16, 2023, 10:07 AM