15 of Spain’s top female soccer players have resigned from the national team, saying their coach’s training methods are detrimental to their emotional states and health.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation said in a statement on Thursday that it had received 15 emails from 15 players requesting not to be selected, and indicated that there was a problem with the players with coach Jorge Vilda and his staff.
The federation said it was “an unprecedented situation in the history of football, male and female, in Spain and throughout the world.”
The players said in their resignation letters that the “current situation” had significantly affected their “emotional state and health,” according to the federation.
Reuters reported, citing sources close to the situation, that the players were dissatisfied with the injury management, the atmosphere prevailing in the dressing room, the selection of the Felda team and its training sessions.
Two-time World Cup winner and US women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe posted an Instagram story on Thursday evening supporting the players, saying: “She finished 16th. [player] I stand with you in [US flag emoji] So many players together like this is so powerful. We must all listen.”
The RFEF appears to be standing next to the coach. The federation said that it “will not allow players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, because making these decisions does not fall within their powers.”
“The federation will not accept any kind of pressure from any player when taking sporting measures. The statement added that these types of maneuvers are far from typical, outside the values of football and sport, and are harmful.
The Spanish Football Federation said players will not be allowed to return to the national team unless they “accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.
Rebellion is a high-risk move for players. The federation said the refusal to call up a national team was classified as a “very serious offense and could result in two-year penalties and five years of disqualification”.