By Victor Kanayo
Jenni Hermoso has not been included in Spain’s first squad since winning the Women’s World Cup, but 15 members of the triumphant team have been invited to camp.
Spain face Sweden in Gothenburg on Friday and then host Switzerland in Cordoba on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
Both games are in the Nations League, which also serves as the qualification pathway for Paris 2024 Olympics.
Tome’s First Charge
This was the first squad announcement by new coach Montse Tome, who replaced Jorge Vilda – considered a close ally of Rubiales – after he was sacked earlier this month.
A large number of players boycotted the team after then football federation boss Luis Rubiales kissed forward Hermoso following last month’s final.
The fall out led to Rubiales resigning.
On Friday, 39 players – including 21 of the 23 World Cup-winners – said their strike would continue until further changes were made.
Players’ Swift U-turn
But they have started reporting to camp, amid threat of a fine or a domestic ban looming over them if they don’t respond to the call of national team.
Six Madrid-based players arrived at a hotel in the Spanish capital on Tuesday before departing for Valencia, where the rest of the squad are expected to join them to prepare for UEFA Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland, ESPN reports.
The players, many of whom helped La Roja win the World Cup last month, said they were surprised by their call-up on Monday after they had made clear their decision not to play for Spain until their demands for change were met.
Spanish Law Against Boycott
However, according to Spanish sports law, athletes are required to answer the call of their national team unless there are circumstances that impede them from playing, such as an injury.
Should they refuse the call, the players face sanctions including fines of up to €30,000 ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years.
Spain’s players first pushed for change at the RFEF last September when 15 players made themselves unavailable for selection until certain improvements were met.
Three of the 15 eventually returned for the World Cup, which ended with Spain beating England in the final in Sydney, but federation president Luis Rubiales’ conduct after that game has re-opened the dispute.
Rubiales, who has since stepped down following an outcry, is facing criminal charges for an unsolicited kiss on Jenni Hermoso, while he was also condemned for grabbing his crotch, hugging and kissing some players and throwing another over his shoulders.
When he initially refused to resign, 81 current and retired Spain internationals said they would not play for the national team again under Rubiales’ leadership.