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Jorge Vilda fired as Spain’s women’s soccer coach

Pedro Rocha, interim president of the Spanish soccer federation, dismisses the manager of the recently crowned world champions, the first victim of the tsunami unleashed after Luis Rubiales’ non-consensual kiss to Jennifer Hermoso

Jorge Vilda y Luis Rubiales
Jorge Vilda and the president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, after Spain won the Women's World Cup Final.PAblo García (RFEF / EFE)

Pedro Rocha, interim president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF, for its initials in Spanish), informed Jorge Vilda this Tuesday of his dismissal as head coach of the women’s soccer team which under his management was proclaimed world champion on August 20. Vilda becomes the first victim of the tsunami unleashed in the federation after Luis Rubiales’ non-consensual kiss to Jennifer Hermoso and his aggressive speech given in the assembly in which he announced that he would not resign. An hour after communicating the dismissal of Vilda, the RFEF shared the name of his replacement, as it appointed Montse Tomé, until now Vilda’s second in command, as the new national coach.

After Rubiales proclaimed that “false feminism in Spain is a scourge,” Vilda was one of those attending the assembly who applauded. The convinced clapping of his hands caused the acting vice president of the country, Yolanda Díaz, to ask for his resignation and that of the coach of the senior men’s team, Luis de la Fuente, who also applauded.

Rubiales’ words and Vilda’s applause caused the Futpro union to issue a harsh statement signed by more than 80 players, including the 23 world champions, in which they announced that they would not return to the national team “as long as the current leaders continue.” Although Rubiales has refused to resign, during these days the players had been consulted by who was the federative director of women’s football, the president of the Navarrese territorial federation Rafael del Amo, who resigned in protest after Rubiales’ speech. He was also the only one of the regional presidents who asked Rubiales face to face for his resignation in the meeting prior to the assembly. Del Amo will be reinstated in his position by Rocha.

In the aforementioned assembly, which accelerated FIFA’s suspension of Rubiales for 90 days, the leader also interacted directly with Vilda and left Pedro Rocha in charge of extending his contract for four years and, in addition, of making his salary go from 170,000 euros to 500,000.

Rubiales’ histrionic speech, in which he included a description of the kiss to Jennifer Hermoso in which he presented himself as a victim, caused astonishment. It also made the Spanish international forward write on her social networks: “I felt vulnerable and a victim of aggression, an impulsive, sexist act and without any type of consent on my part.” Immediately afterwards, she added in bold: “I was simply not respected.” Hermoso was forced to denounce that Rubiales’ words “explaining the unfortunate incident” were “categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated.” And she continued: “The kiss was not consensual nor to my liking.”

In the Barcelona expedition during the tour of Mexico, the players were attentive to Jorge Vilda’s situation in the Federation. “Now we have to push, now is the time to push,” warned one of Barça’s leaders, also present in Australia and New Zealand, when FIFA provisionally suspended Luis Rubiales and Jorge Vilda’s position began to falter; even more cornered after effusively applauding the former president’s speech, despite the fact that he rectified a day later and condemned Rubiales’s attitude, both in the box and on the podium and his non-consensual kiss to Jennifer Hermoso. “On Friday he applauded him because he thinks the same as Rubiales, but on Saturday he sent that letter so as not to lose his job. He is like that. He does whatever it takes to save himself,” complains one of the Barcelona players.

Vilda never felt supported by the dressing room. He knew that the false calm that existed during the World Cup was just that, a false calm. There was a time, granted, that the coach had earned a certain affection from his players. “For those of us who had had Quereda, Vilda’s presence was a big change. He is not a bad person. But he doesn’t know much about football,” recalls one of the team’s historic players, now retired. The new generations, on the other hand, were never happy with Vilda. “We had to pretend to be asleep when he came by at night to check on us and went into the rooms,” recalls the same source. The problem, in any case, was not the limitations in the coach’s management - “He is the typical insecure and manipulative guy, who wants to control everything and surrounds himself with mediocre people,” says a former member of his coaching staff -, the problem was his lack of football knowledge. “We prepare the games alone. Vilda’s individual strategy did not work for us,” they comment from the entourage of one of the world champions.

Vilda already knew that his message did not resonate with the soccer players. He knew it since Euro 2022, and never so clearly as when 15 players asked not to be called up last September. Some bet on their careers, others on their values, but today they are all united against Rubiales and Vilda. “He can’t continue. The players are against him and the entire coaching staff has resigned. What else has to happen?” asks a Barcelona veteran. Indeed, nothing else had to happen. Vilda was left alone. Without coaching staff or footballers, and especially without the backing of his great supporter: Rubiales

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