Spain sack World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda amid fallout from Luis Rubiales scandal

Manager was only member of women's national team coaching set-up not to resign in protest at behaviour of president after final

Spain manager Jorge Vilda, left, with Spanish football president Luis Rubiales with after their Women's World Cup semi-final victory over Sweden in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 15, 2023. Reuters
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Spain's Women's World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda has been sacked amid the fallout from the scandal involving the Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales.

Vilda was the only member of the women's national team coaching set-up not to resign in protest at the behaviour of Rubiales at the end of the World Cup final, but the Spanish football federation (RFEF) confirmed his dismissal on Tuesday afternoon.

Concerns over Vilda's coaching methods and regime were reported to have been a key factor in 15 Spain players refusing to play for the national team last year.

The federation, under Rubiales' leadership, refused to budge in response to the players' complaints, with a statement saying those involved would only be able to return to the national team “if they accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.

Vilda was seen applauding Rubiales at an emergency RFEF General Assembly when he announced on August 25 that he would not resign over his actions in Sydney.

After the final he kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips – something she says she did not consent to – and where he grabbed his crotch in the VIP area celebrating the win, stood just metres from Spain's Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter.

Rubiales was suspended by Fifa, pending an investigation into his conduct.

The RFEF made no reference to any discontent among the players towards the players in announcing Vilda's exit, instead referring to his “professionalism and dedication during all these years”.

The statement described the move as one of the first “renewal measures” under current president Pedro Rocha, who earlier on Tuesday had published a letter apologising on behalf of the RFEF for Rubiales' behaviour.

“We value [Vilda's] impeccable personal and sporting conduct, being a key piece in the notable growth of women's football in Spain. During his extensive period, Vilda has been a promoter of the values of respect and sportsmanship in football,” the RFEF statement confirming the coach's dismissal said.

“The RFEF would like to express its gratitude to Jorge Vilda for the services provided, for his professionalism and dedication during all these years, wishing him the best successes in the future.

“The RFEF is left with an extraordinary sporting legacy thanks to the implementation of a recognised game model and a methodology that has been an engine of growth for all the women's categories of the national team.”

The federation later announced Montse Tome, Vilda’s assistant and one of those who resigned after Rubiales’ address to the RFEF assembly, had been appointed as his successor. She becomes the first woman to manage the side.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 4:25 PM