Jenni Hermoso said the decision to call up players who are boycotting Spain’s women’s team was proof that “nothing has changed” at the country’s football federation (RFEF) following the resignation of its president over the Women’s World Cup kiss scandal.
After most of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad were selected on Monday for upcoming games, the players said they would continue their boycott, which came after Luis Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation ceremony in Australia.
Should the players refuse the call-up they could face fines of up €30,000 (£26,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years under Spain’s Sports Act. Victor Francos, the head of Spain’s government national sports agency, told SER radio station if the players did not show up “the government must apply the law”.
On Tuesday, six players – four of whom had said on social media that they would continue the boycott – turned up at the Madrid hotel to join the women’s national team camp. Among those who arrived was goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez, who was asked by a Spanish reporter if she was happy to have been called up. “No,” she answered.
Other players were reportedly told to show up in Valencia on Tuesday, where they would be driven to a training ground that is not equipped with floodlights, according to Spanish media.
As sports news site Relevo described the call-up as “absolute chaos,” the country’s minister of sport, Miquel Iceta, weighed in, calling on the federation to “correct all deficiencies of this anomalous call-up”.
When asked about whether players would be sanctioned if they did not heed the call-up, Iceta said he could not imagine that happening. “We are going to find solutions before that,” he told reporters. “What we can’t do is continue to commit injustices and harm players who have given the best of themselves and earned a world title for the first time in history.”
He added that the country’s national sports agency – whose head was planning to meet with players later on Tuesday – would be tasked with brokering a solution.
The Spanish footballers’ union, AFE, said it was “astonished” by Monday’s call-up. “It’s incomprehensible how an institution, that has stated in recent weeks its intention to begin a new era of open dialogue and consensus, demonstrates once again a huge lack of consideration towards women’s football and the recently proclaimed world champions,” it said in a statement.
Hermoso, who was not called up, said the players had been “caught by surprise” by the call-ups and were forced to react to “another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF”.
“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussion and economic sanctions,” the 33-year-old striker said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter. “It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that even today, nothing has changed.”
The RFEF did not respond immediately to a request for comment outside normal business hours. The federation said in an earlier statement it was convinced of the need for “structural changes” and had to clarify who was responsible for the behaviour the players had brought to light.
Montse Tomé, who has replaced Jorge Vilda as coach of the national team, suggested Hermoso was left out because of the intense media attention the player had received in the past month.
“We stand with Jenni … we believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni,” Tomé said.
Hermoso asked who she needed protection from. “A claim was made today stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin yet at the press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me,” she said. “Protect me from what? And from whom?”
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