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Photo: EFE / Video: Europa Press
Women's football

New women's football coach heads to Valencia with just six players and waits for rest of Spain's called-up national squad to arrive

Recently appointed Montse Tomé "trusts" in the arrival of the players. No shows risk heavy fines and between two and 15 years' suspension of their federation licence if they refuse to play

Javier Varela

Madrid

Tuesday, 19 September 2023, 16:26

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Spain's women's World Cup players who have been called up to the national squad, despite their pleas not to play, will travel individually, instead of going as a team.

They were initially supposed to all meet at a hotel in Madrid, near Barajas airport this Tuesday 19 September, and from there travel together to Valencia to prepare for their upcoming match. But the Spanish football federation (RFEF) changed its mind at the last minute and sent the called-up players tickets to travel Valencia directly from their places of origin to prepare for Friday's match against Sweden, the first match of the Nations League and the first step to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The aim was to avoid the media, where a scrum was already waiting for the players at the Madrid hotel.

It comes as Jenni Hermoso, at the centre of the Luis Rubiales kissing scandal, accused the FEF of "intimidation and threats" after the world cup players were called up to play for La Rioja against their will.

It will not be known if all the called-up players will be present at the new meeting place, Nova Beach Hotel in Oliva. No shows risk heavy fines and between two and 15 years' suspension of their federation licence if they refuse to play.

The coach, the first to arrive

Montse Tomé arrived at 10:45 am at the hotel, where the federation summoned the technical team before travelling to Valencia. The media present upon Tomé's arrival asked her if she expected all the players to go to the call-up and the coach's answer was "yes". "Don't worry, I trust," she said surrounded by cameras.

The first of those called up to arrive at the hotel was Real Madrid goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez, who when asked if the players had spoken to Montse said: "we have not heard anything". And when asked if she was happy to be on Tomé's list, replied with, "no".

Athenea del Castillo, who arrived together with Olga Carmona, pointed out that whatever she had to say was already said in her statement. "I think I was clear, wasn't I? I said I was going to be here. Thank you all very much."

Later Eva Navarro, Oihane Hernández and Tere Abelleira arrived, but did not want to make any statement. These six players and the coach, with the rest of the coaching staff, are going to travel to Valencia to wait for the rest of the players.

'Yesterday we made a fool of ourselves as a country, it is unacceptable'

The president of Spain's CSD sports council, Victor Francos, was this Tuesday morning in talks with the internationals and was scheduled to meet with them this afternoon to address the conflict. "The government has allowed the federation to talk to the players, has left all the room for negotiations and that is why we have been so cautious not to talk to them until what has happened. Yesterday we made a fool of ourselves as a country, it is unacceptable," said Francos in statements to LaSexta.

"This morning I got in touch with some of them and asked them to meet me this afternoon in Valencia to know their reasons and to try to help them achieve some of their objectives, which are known by the press, but I personally have not been informed and I thought that the time had come to talk to them so that they could tell me personally," he added. "The players I spoke to were in a bad way, very bad. The impression was negative," he said.

Minister of sport Miquel Iceta said the RFEF is handling things "very badly and therefore the president of the sports council is going to get personally involved in the search for a solution".

The federation ditches press office team from its staff

The RFEF Spanish football federation has dropped five members of its press office team set to be a part of the women's national team that will play against Sweden and Switzerland in the coming days.

The affected employees worked in the press, audiovisual, marketing and social media networks departments. The international players pointed the finger at the communications department in their statement, but they were not targeting those people, but others rather higher up in the organisation.

Support from Sweden

Swedish international Filippa Angeldahl said that her teammates would support a possible boycott of the Spanish players in the Nations League match that both teams play this Friday, and regrets that they are in such a "difficult" situation.

"They should feel all the support that there is around them, other countries support them in the decision they choose to take. If they feel they need to boycott the game to make something happen, we clearly support them. That would mean that there is something that needs to change and that what has been done in the national team has not been enough," she told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

What sanction can players receive if they do not attend the training camp?

Players face fines between 3,000 and 30,000 euros and the suspension of their RFEF Spanish football federation licence for a period of between two and fifteen years.

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