| 2 October 2023, Monday |

Spain’s World Cup-winning rebels report for training under sanctions threat

Some of the rebel players from Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s squad who had threatened to boycott the national team in a push to stamp out sexism at the football federation (RFEF) on Tuesday reported for training under the threat of being sanctioned.

Misa Rodriguez, Olga Carmona, Oihane Hernandez, Eva Navarro and Tere Abelleira, who had previously said they would not play for the team until further changes were applied at the Spanish football federation (RFEF), were escorted by police at Madrid’s airport as they headed for a training camp near Valencia.

Local media reported that several other players including Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas boarded a plane from Barcelona for Valencia.

The players were named in the squad ahead of a match against Sweden on Friday by new coach Montse Tome despite signing a statement last week saying they did not feel safe under the current leadership at the RFEF.

Jenni Hermoso, the player at the centre of the scandal after RFEF’s then President Luis Rubiales grabbed her head and kissed her on her lips after the World Cup final on Aug. 20, sparking fury over sexist attitudes toward women footballers, on Monday accused the RFEF of trying to divide and manipulate the players.

She said they did this by threatening them with legal and economic consequences if they refused to play.

Should they refuse the call-up, the players could face fines of up 30,000 euros ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years, according to Spain’s Sports Act.

Many countries leave the sanctioning of players to FIFA. Football’s global governing body’s rules state that players who are selected for their national team are obliged to go and their clubs obliged to release them if done with enough warning, said Toni Roca, director of the Sports Law Institute.

Two sources close to the players said they were expecting the whole squad to report in view of the threat of sanctions.

  • Reuters