Spain’s women’s football coach was dismissed following an unwelcome World Cup kiss scandal. Jorge Vilda was fired as the head coach of the Spanish women’s football team in the aftermath of football chief Luis Rubiales’ unwanted kiss on a participant during the Women’s World Cup final.
Since Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), forcibly kissed forward Jennifer Hermoso on 20 August, a significant shakeup has occurred in the sport.
Rubiales has apologized for his actions and described the kiss as “mutual”; however, Hermoso has refuted this claim, stating that she was not respected. FIFA, the global regulatory body of football, has suspended him for 90 days while disciplinary proceedings are ongoing.
In a statement announcing Vilda’s dismissal, the RFEF stated that he was “crucial to the growth of women’s football” and that he “leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings.”
The federation described the action as “one of the first restructuring measures announced by (interim) President Pedro Rocha.”
Later, RFEF revealed that Vilda would be succeeded by his deputy, Montse Tomé. She will be the first woman in command of the women’s national team, and her debut match will come on September 22 against Sweden.
Since 2015, Vilda has coached the women’s national team. The statement continued, “RFEF appreciates his work at the helm of the national team and his responsibilities as the highest sporting figure of the women’s national teams, as well as the successes reaped during his tenure, which culminated in the recent achievement of the World Cup.”
In addition, the article lauded Vilda’s “impeccable personal and sporting conduct” and described him as a “promoter of the values of respect and sportsmanship in football.”
Vilda, who previously coached Spain’s under-17 and under-19 women’s teams, led La Roja to a 1-0 victory over England last month in the Women’s World Cup final.
However, success on the field belies a tense atmosphere within the squad and a long-standing rivalry between some of the nation’s best players, Vilda’s coaching staff, and RFEF.
Following victories against the Netherlands and Sweden in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the World Cup, videos of what appeared to be cold reactions from some of Spain’s substituted players towards Vilda and his staff, as well as during post-match celebrations, went viral on social media.
One video footage depicted Vilda attempting to celebrate with a small group of teammates following the victory over the Netherlands but appearing ignored.
Before September of last year, 15 senior women’s squad members notified RFEF via email that they would only compete for the national team if sweeping changes were made to the coaching staff.
The same letters stated that “the situation” within the Spanish national team – of which RFEF was “aware” – had impacted the players’ “emotional state” and health.
The letter stated, “As a result, I do not consider myself in a condition to be selected for the national team, and I request not to be called up until the situation is resolved.”
Only three of the fifteen athletes who signed the letters were on Spain’s World Cup roster: Mariona Caldentey, Aitana Bonmat, and Ona Batlle.
CNN previously contacted RFEF and Vilda for comment on the letter, but neither organization responded. After its release, Vilda referred to the situation as “a global embarrassment” and stated that the solution was to assemble a team of “players who are 100 percent committed to the project.”
The controversy surrounding Vilda had only grown since the World Cup final when he appeared to inappropriately handle a female staff member while celebrating Spain’s goal against England, as captured on video. CNN’s use of RFEF to contact Vilda did not elicit a response to queries about the incident.
Rubiales, speaking at the federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly last month in which he refused to resign, also offered his support to Vilda and stated that he was beginning to provide the coach a new four-year contract worth approximately $542,000 (€500,000) per
Rubiales stated at the time, “On a much smaller scale (than my situation), they wanted to do to you what they’re doing to me now.”
“A deceptive narrative that attempts to pass for the truth. We’ve been through a lot, we’ve been through a lot, we’ve digested a lot, but we’ve been through it together: you, me, and your team.”
Vilda and many others in the room applauded Rubiales throughout the entire assembly. The following day, he issued a statement condemning the actions of the embattled football executive.
Vilda said in a statement widely circulated by Spanish media, “I am deeply sorry that the victory of the Spanish women’s football team has been harmed by the inappropriate behavior of our until now top leader, Luis Rubiales, which he has acknowledged.”
Before Spain’s triumph at the Women’s World Cup, Vilda led the team to the knockout stages of the 2019 tournament and the quarterfinals of the 2017 and 2022 European championships.
As coach of the country’s junior women’s teams, he won the under-17 and under-19 European Championships twice and once, respectively.