Most of Spain’s World Cup-winning players to return to squad

Most of Spain’s international women footballers will rejoin the squad following a strike by the World Cup winners over the president of the federation being accused of inappropriately kissing a player.

Most of Spain’s World Cup-winning players ended their boycott of the women’s national team early Wednesday after the government intervened to help shape an agreement that was expected to lead to immediate structural changes at the country’s soccer federation.


Only two players, Barcelona teammates Patri Guijarro and Mapi León, opted to leave the training camp in the eastern city of Valencia after receiving guarantees from the government that they would not be sanctioned, with the rest staying after being told that some of their demands for reform would be met.

The players reported to camp on Tuesday after being picked by new coach Montse Tomé against their will on Monday in the latest twist in the crisis that has engulfed Spanish football since former federation president Luis Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony following Spain’s Women’s World Cup title in Australia last month.

Specific details of the changes agreed upon were not revealed following the hours-long meetings involving the government’s top sports officials, players, Tomé and federation representatives. The meetings ended at nearly 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

The president of the FUTRPO players’ union, Amanda Gutiérrez, said steps had been made toward establishing the same treatment for Spain’s women’s and men’s national teams.

“An agreement has been reached to make changes to the structure of women’s soccer, so that the executive and administrative staff will match that of the men’s team, to further professionalise the team and staff,” Gutiérrez said.

Víctor Francos, Spain’s Secretary for Sports and president of the Higher Council for Sports said the “cordial meetings” led to the creation of a committee involving players, the federation and the government.

He said the agreements should promote advances in gender policies and equal pay, as well as lead to structural changes in women’s soccer. It was not clear, though, if any firings would take place in the federation.

Among the demands by the players was to have interim president Pedro Rocha, who took over after Rubiales’ resignation, also step down.

Spain’s acting Minister for Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, said the federation plans to hold early elections in the first months of 2024.

“We hope that that the renewal of the federation will be a turning point,” Iceta said.

Officials said the players did not call for Tomé to step down. Tomé was an assistant to former coach Jorge Vilda at the Women’s World Cup. She had resigned during the Rubiales uproar but agreed to come back to replace Vilda after he was fired.