A number of Spain’s World Cup-winning stars reluctantly reported for national team duty on Tuesday amid concerns they could face sanctions for refusing to be called up.
Fifteen of the squad from this summer’s tournament were named in Montse Tome’s squad on Monday for Nations League encounters against Sweden and Switzerland, despite 21 of the 23-player contingent stating on Friday they would not play for their country again until the football federation (RFEF) had undergone major restructuring.
The group insisted the resignation of Luis Rubiales was “not enough” to prompt their return. He finally quit as RFEF president on September 10 following the scandal surrounding his kiss on the lips of Spain player Jenni Hermoso after the final in Sydney in August, which she insists was not consensual.
Under Spanish sports law “unjustified lack of attendance” for national team duty is considered a serious infraction which can result in fines or even a suspension, and amid the uncertainty players committed to the boycott gathered on Tuesday.
A group of Madrid-based stars met at a hotel in the Spanish capital before travelling on to a training base near Valencia. Among them was goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez, who answered “no” when asked by reporters if she was happy to be part of Tome’s squad.
Another group of Barcelona players, including 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, were photographed and interviewed as they arrived at El Prat airport in the Catalan city for a flight to the Valencia training camp.
The PA news agency understands world players’ union FIFPRO is among the bodies providing legal advice and other support to the group, although that support is being led by domestic player unions.
Hermoso, who Tome said had not been called up for the Nations League matches for her own protection, issued a statement early on Tuesday accusing the RFEF of “intimidation” and making threats towards the player group.
“We have spent weeks, months, searching for protection from inside the RFEF that never came,” she posted on social media.
“The same people who ask us to trust them are those who today announced a squad with players who asked NOT to be called up.
“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions.”
Tome said Spain were still “counting on” Hermoso, despite her omission.
“We stand with Jenni,” she told a press conference on Monday.
“We believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni.
“It’s the start of a new phase, the clock is ticking. There is nothing behind us and we really want to connect with these players.”