Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s team coach Jorge Vilda was sacked, the country’s football federation (RFEF) said on Tuesday 10 days after FIFA suspended its president for kissing national team player Jenni Hermoso on the mouth.
A new board formed after the suspension of RFEF President Luis Rubiales by soccer’s world governing body FIFA over the allegedly non-consensual kiss during the World Cup victory celebration two weeks ago has terminated Vilda’s contract.
In a statement that gave no reason for his dismissal and did not mention Hermoso, Rubiales or the scandal, RFEF thanked 42-year-old Vilda for his “extraordinary sporting legacy.”
“The coach has been key to the remarkable growth of women’s football and leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings,” the RFEF statement said.
The furore involving Rubiales has quickly spiralled into a national debate over women’s rights and sexist behaviour.
In a separate statement by interim President Pedro Rocha, the RFEF apologised for Rubiales’s “inappropriate conduct.”
“The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous,” the three-page statement signed by Rocha said.
Vilda, considered a close ally of Rubiales, had been under fire since last year after 15 players staged a mutiny calling for his resignation because of inadequate coaching methods and calling for conditions to match those of the men’s squad.
Most of the players involved were cut from the squad even as some demands were met.
Danae Boronat, a sports presenter who interviewed Spain’s leading female players for her book “Don’t Call Them Girls, Call Them Footballers”, said players accused Vilda of micromanaging, such as instructing senior players what to say in interviews.
Vilda could not immediately be reached for comment. Rubiales did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vilda and Luis de la Fuente, the men’s national team manager, applauded Rubiales when he refused to resign on Aug. 25 but later issued statements condemning his behaviour.
Rubiales had praised Vilda for the World Cup triumph and offered him a new four-year contract, increasing his annual salary to 500,000 euros ($536,000) from 160,000 euros.
Spain’s top 58 female players said they would not play for the national team under the existing leadership. An RFEF source told Reuters last week that players were now being consulted to see whether the removal of Vilda would change that.