Spain’s football crisis has gone nuclear with troubling video of footballers looking like prisoners exposing another ugly twist.
The nation’s football community has fallen apart in the wake of their Women’s World Cup triumph in Australia with coach Jorge Vilda sacked and disgraced Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales forced to resign.
Thirty nine national team players have declared their intent to continue to protest against the national football governing body (RFEF) over the scandals, but fuel was poured on the burning tensions when 15 players from the World Cup winning squad were selected by new head coach Montse Tome, despite their declaration of protest.
The selections have sparked outrage after World Cup star Jenni Hermoso, who was forcibly kissed on the mouth by Rubiales during the post-match celebrations, was axed.
Tome said the decision was made to “protect” Hermoso.
Those 39 players had demanded Rubiales be removed, but then announced their intention to continue to boycott the national team until the dressing room feels like a “safe place” and widespread structural changes have been made at the top of the RFEF.
Troubling footage of some players arriving for their camp looking like zombies ahead of their upcoming Women’s Nations League fixtures against Sweden and Switzerland has now shocked the world.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez told reporters upon her arrival at the team hotel that she did not want to be there.
According to reports in Spain, players felt they have been left with “no other choice” by the RFEF but to attend because of a legal threat.
Mapi Leon, a double Champions League winner, made scathing comments as she walked past journalists.
“We should talk at length about whether we are going to a safe place or not when they are forcing us,” she said.
“If they are going to sanction us, then we will have to come.”
One report claims administrators made a last-minute decision to switch the club’s hotel headquarters in an attempt to avoid journalists and cameras.
The footage of the players’ arrival has been described as “emotional abuse”.
“Everything keeps getting worse in the RFEF,” wrote former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
English football legend Gary Lineker wrote: “They could not have handled this more appallingly”.
Swiss footballer Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic also posted on X: “This is insane… how can you threaten your own players like this… call them to the national team, when they said they want clear changes before they come back!”
“This is soooo disrespectful… clearly they don’t care and they dont allow them to make their own decision.”
Some players reportedly did not know they had been selected against their wishes, until hearing Tome’s Tuesday press conference.
In response to their selections players, the players, including Ballon d’Or winner Alexis Putellas, released a statement on Tuesday which read: “What was expressed in our statement…makes clear and without any option for another interpretation our firm will not to be summoned for justified reasons. These statements are still fully valid.
“During the days following that statement, we want to make it known to the public that nothing different has been transmitted to any member of the RFEF, so we expressly ask that the information transmitted publicly be rigorous.
“As elite professional players and after everything that has happened today, we will study the possible legal consequences to which the RFEF exposes us by putting us on a list from which we had asked not to be called for reasons already explained publicly and in more detail to the RFEF, and with this make the best decision for our future and for our health.
“It does seem relevant to us to point out, in this sense, that the call has not been made in a timely manner, in accordance with article 3.2 of annex one of FIFA’s regulations on the status and transfer of players, so we understand that the RFEF is not in a position to require us to go.”
Hermoso meanwhile, on Tuesday also released a scathing statement about her omission from the team.
She wrote: “Protect me from what? Let’s be clear: a claim was made today stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin yet at the same press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me.
“Protect me from what? And from whom? We have been searching for weeks – months, even – for protection from the RFEF that never came. The people who now ask us to trust them are the same ones who today disclosed the list of players who have asked NOT to be called up.
“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions. It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that even today, nothing has changed.
“I want to once again show my full support to my colleagues who have been caught by surprise and forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF.
“This is why we are fighting and why we are doing it in this way.”
Tome said she trusted that the players selected are “professionals” who will perform for the national team in the matches against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26 respectively where they can qualify for the Olympics.
— with AFP