NEARLY all of Spain’s 23 women’s football players on the national team have agreed to end their boycott and play against Sweden in the Nations League. The World Cup winners had been demanding wide-reaching changes in the Football Federation before they would get back on the pitch, but 21 of them have now dropped their protest.
The news was confirmed on Wednesday by the president of Spain’s CSD sports council, Victor Francos, after marathon talks were held late last night.
“Twenty-one players have shown the will to stay,” he told reporters after the six-hour meeting at a hotel in Oliva, Valencia. “I have to be honest, the players are going through a difficult moment and I think that it is good news to be able to say that the women’s team will play their two games with guarantees and victories.”
Despite the boycott, the team’s new coach, Montse Tome, chose 15 of the players from the Word Cup squad for the upcoming Nations League matches.
The players were potentially facing fines of as much as €30,000 should they have refused to play, but the Spanish government has made clear that they would not have to pay out such sums.
The players have been promised ‘immediate and profound changes’ to the structure of the Football Federation in the wake of the global controversy sparked by ex-chairman Luis Rubiales’ infamous forcible kiss of player Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s World Cup victory in Australia on August 20.
Rubiales finally quit after weeks of pressure to do so, including from high-ranking politicians such as the caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. He had also been suspended from his roles by Fifa. He is now facing a criminal trial in the national High Court for charges of sexual assault and coercion.
The meeting last night between the Federation and the women’s team also included agreements related to their long-standing calls for better salaries and infrastructure, bringing their conditions closer to those of their male counterparts.