By Chris King •
Updated: 17 Aug 2023 • 21:54
Image of football fan with Spanish flag.
SPAIN play England’s Lionesses at Stadium Australia in Sydney this Sunday, August 20.
It is the first time the two countries have met in the final of the World Cup in either the men’s or women’s football. One nation will eventually hoist the trophy aloft for the first time and make history in the process.
Should the Spanish be victorious then it will crown a remarkable reign filled with controversy surrounding the country’s head coach, Jorge Vilda.
Last September, he became embroiled in a situation where a total of 15 players emailed the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to announce their resignation from the national team.
Players from Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Club America were among the 15 to send an email.
This action came as the result of the RFEF’s refusal to fire Vilda, who they accused of creating a toxic atmosphere in the locker room. The players involved also said that his style of management was affecting their mental health.
In response to the threat from the 15 players, Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF issued a strong statement in which he totally backed the national coach.
The federation even went as far as to warn the players concerned that they had committed ‘a very serious infraction’ by refusing to play. This was something that could lead to a suspension of up to five years from the national team they indicated.
Apologies were demanded from the ‘rebels, with 12 of the 15 eventually giving in and sending an apology. It has to be remembered that Vilda’s father Angel works in the women’s football department of the RFEF and reportedly enjoys a very close working relationship with Rubiales.
With the RFEF refusing to back down, 12 of the 15 players who went on strike wrote letters of apology. Only three of those who apologised were picked by Vilda for his World Cup squad.
With the problem apparently resigned to the past, Spain’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands seemed to suggest differently.
While the players celebrated on the pitch, Vilda was left on his own to enjoy the moment, with his players ignoring him. This can be measured against the affection Sarina Wiegman is shown by her Lionesses after each win.
Speaking about guiding his team to the semi-finals of the World Cup and the problems of last year, the coach replied: ‘You are asking about the past, but first of all, I would like to acknowledge the backing and support of our president Luis Rubiales from day one’.
He added: ‘Without that, we would not be here. I’m pretty sure all this wouldn’t have happened. We have a president who reacted with courage and trusted me and my technical team, and we are very happy with the whole process’.
It remains to be seen how Sunday’s final will pan out, but if Spain goes on to win the World Cup then Vilda will still go down in history as the remarkable coach who overcame the turbulence to lead the Women’s team to their first-ever victory in this tournament, despite the feelings his players might have towards him.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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