Players of Spain pose for a photo with the FIFA Women's World Cup trophy after the 1-0 win over England in the tournament's final at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, August 20, 2023. /CFP
Players of the Spanish women's national football team said they will continue their boycott of playing for the country despite the call-up by the new manager Montse Tome on Monday.
A total of 39 players signed a statement of refusing to play for the national team after the former Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales refused to resign for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips at the FIFA Women's World Cup awards ceremony in Sydney in August.
Rubiales stepped down last week. Tome's predecessor Jorge Vilda was also sacked. However, those didn't meet the players' demands for deep reforms and new leadership in the RFEF.
Tome called up nearly half of the 39 players, including 15 World Cup winners, but not Hermoso, claiming that she was trying to protect her.
"A claim was made today stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin yet at the press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me," Hermoso said in response. "Protect me from what? And from whom?"
Montse Tome, manager of the Spanish women's national football team. /CFP
According to the players' statement on Monday, the RFEF cannot force them to join the national team. They will report to the training camp in Madrid on Tuesday, but some of them won't make it because they are not in Spain. According to Spanish sports law, players must respond to national team calls unless they are held by circumstances like injury from playing.
"As professional athletes, after everything that happened today, we will study the possible legal consequences to which the federation exposed us to by including us in a list in which we had asked not to be in because of the reasons that we already publicly explained," the players said in the statement. "We regret once again that our federation has put us in a situation in which we never wanted to be in."
Spain will play two UEFA Women's Nations League games, against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland on September 26.
"We urge the players to join these changes led by the federation, knowing that these transformations must be fair and solid," the RFEF said. "We guarantee a safe environment for the players and we are committed to promoting mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women's soccer continues to progress strongly."