Sacked Spain Coach Vilda Says Dismissal ‘Unjust’

Spain’s head coach Jorge Vilda looks on during a training session at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 19, 2023 on the eve of the Women’s World Cup final football match between Spain and England. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Jorge Vilda, the fired women’s coach of Spain, claims he has a clear conscience and that his removal 16 days after La Roja’s World Cup victory was wrong.

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In the aftermath of the Luis Rubiales affair, the Spanish football federation (RFEF) fired the 42-year-old on Tuesday.

FIFA suspended RFEF president Rubiales after he kissed Spain star Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony in Sydney on August 20, while the Spanish government is seeking additional sanctions.

Hermoso said the kiss was not consensual, while Rubiales continues to insist it was.

After Rubiales refused to resign, over 80 players went on strike from the women’s side until the leadership of the RFEF was removed.

“The explanation (for the sacking) was ‘structural changes’,” Vilda told radio station Cadena Ser.

“After everything that has been achieved, giving absolutely everything … I have a clear conscience.

“I gave 100 percent and I don’t understand it, I don’t think my sacking was deserved.”

Before the World Cup 15 players refused to play for the national team because of disagreements with Vilda and the federation, although many relented and three were called up for the tournament.

After the tournament Rubiales had pledged to extend Vilda’s contract by four years and give him a significant pay hike.

“I’m feeling as good as you can after becoming world champions 16 days ago, 10 days ago having your contract renewed with a higher salary and then today being sacked, I think unjustly,” said Vilda.

The former Spain women’s coach was criticised for applauding Rubiales’ controversial speech in which he railed against “false feminism” and refused to resign.

“I will never applaud anything macho,” added Vilda. “I didn’t know where that meeting was going, we thought we were going to see a resignation.

“The president was evaluating your work and announcing your renewal — that I applauded.”

Vilda said he had not spoken to Hermoso recently but knew she was suffering after the incident.

“I’ve known Jenni for 16 years,” said Vilda.

“I know she’s having a hard time, I know her family is having a hard time, and I know she’s waiting for all this to be over.”

Vilda took over the Spanish women’s national team in 2015, after years spent coaching younger age groups within the RFEF.

Players had complained about his training methods and tactics after Spain were eliminated in Euro 2022 by England in the quarter-finals, as well as other issues around the team.

Former athletes also chastised Vilda for being very “controlling.” According to Spanish media, he ordered that players’ shopping bags be checked and that the squad leave their bedroom doors open during team training camps to ensure that the players were still present in the evenings.

Despite the criticism, Rubiales and the federation supported Vilda, and the coach called up a number of younger players to fill in for the 15 missing stars in the run-up to the World Cup.

Montserrat Tome, Vilda’s former assistant, has been named coach, making her the team’s first female leader.

‘Presumption Of Innocence’ 

Dani Carvajal, a defender for the Spanish men’s team, did not want to comment on Vilda’s dismissal on Wednesday when asked about it in a news conference.

“Internally decisions are made that us players can’t go into,” said Carvajal.

“All I can tell you is that we will back (men’s coach Luis) de la Fuente until the end, the decisions about them are not up to us.”

Real Madrid right-back Carvajal drew criticism for comments on Spanish radio late Tuesday about the Rubiales incident.

Carvajal had said “there are people who must decide if there is a culprit or a victim” and he would not condemn Rubiales before knowing “what really happened”.

“In no moment did I say that Jenni was not the victim, I just said that the presumption of innocence (until proven otherwise) has to be maintained,” said Carvajal.

“If she’s having a tough time we have to show solidarity with her, that’s clear, like any person — I don’t think the president is having a good time either.

“I am not here to judge or label anyone.”

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