Spanish women's soccer team in turmoil after player revolt

Spanish women’s soccer team in turmoil after player revolt

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – More than half of Spain’s women’s team no longer wants to play in protest against their coach, even though they don’t want him fired.

Fifteen players have told the Spanish federation that being in the squad has “significantly” affected their “emotional state” and health.

However, the players insisted on Friday that they did not ask for the dismissal of coach Jorge Velda, but rather wanted him and the federation to “show a clear commitment to a professional project, taking into account all aspects that are the best necessary to achieve performance. This group of players.”

The players said in a statement: “We understand that under no circumstances is it our job to appoint a coach, but it is our job to express constructively and honestly what we think can improve the team’s performance. ” Social media accounts.

The federation described the players’ move as an attempt to “pressure” its leadership into sacking Velda, which the players have publicly questioned in recent weeks.

In a statement released late Thursday, the federation said it “will not allow its players to question the continuity of the national team coach” and that it “will not tolerate any pressure from any player. “

The conflict between the players and the federation erupted on Thursday when 15 players sent emails to the federation asking them not to play for the team again due to emotional pain. The email sent by the players was published by local media on Friday. The federation confirmed to The Associated Press that the email was genuine, and the names of 15 players.

“The general situation of the Spanish national team caused by recent events, events that (the federation) is aware of, greatly affects my emotional state and therefore my health,” the email said.

“Because of this, I do not consider myself ready for our national team at the moment and therefore request that I do not call until this situation changes.”

The email adds the player’s “full commitment to the team in the past, present and future.”

The list of 15 players who sent the emails included the team’s third captain Petri Guijarro, goalkeeper Sandra Paanos and attacking midfielder Etana Bonmati.

Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Potelas did not send an email. But she joined the rebellion with the players in posting a public statement that reiterated her position on Friday.

This month, Gujero appeared in a press conference with the team’s first captain, Erin Paredes, and striker Jennifer Hermoso to explain their problems with Velda. Neither Fardes nor Hermoso were among the 15 who sent emails.

At the news conference, Pardis said the players were not happy with the team’s results, which reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship in July before losing 2-1 to eventual champions England.

“It’s a complicated moment,” Pardis said. “We are a smart team and we want to improve and win. We believe that different internal aspects of the team need to improve.

Guijarro then said “There is a general dissatisfaction among the team for what we went through at the end of the Eurocup. We thought we had a team that could win titles. We think that and we feel that. The Eurocup Later, the group sent this message to our coach.

Velda also spoke about the rift between the team during the European Championships in England.

“The atmosphere in the team was always good,” Velda said. “The atmosphere in the first 15 days of the Eurocup (camp) was positive. Then the games started and something changed. We were in football heaven, and I hope we can get back there in the future. We have good players. We have a team, and we are just one step away from being the best team.

None of the players mentioned their emotional health at the press conference. This has led to speculation in the Spanish media that there may be more behind the decision than disappointing results.

Ana Alvarez, head of women’s football at the Spanish Football Federation, defended Velda’s professionalism.

While he did not question the players’ emotional distress, Alvarez said there were no reports of verbal or sexual abuse by former players against Velda’s predecessor, Ignacio Querida, which Velda has accused of Placed in 2015. .

Qareida resigned after the players publicly called for his removal from the federation over what they called his poor preparation for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Former players later accused him of using sexist and homophobic language to psychologically abuse him during his nearly three-decade tenure.

“Nothing like this ever happened (under Velda),” Alvarez told Cadena SER radio late Thursday. “We are all professionals and there is never anything for that. Nothing happened that you would think. It would be very serious.”

The Spanish federation has said the players will not be allowed to return until they “apologize”.

Spain is scheduled to play friendly matches against Sweden on October 7th and the United States on October 11th. Velda are expected to announce their squad for the games next week.

The Women’s World Cup starts next July in Australia and New Zealand.

Alvarez said the federation will bring in younger and less experienced players to complete its squad if needed.

“The federation comes first,” she said.

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