Spanish women’s football team coach sacked in wake of Rubiales kiss controversy


The Spanish women’s football team manager, Jorge Vilda, has been sacked in the wake of the Rubiales kiss furore, Reuters reports.

The former coach led Spain to World Cup victory when his side beat England 1-0 in the final.

But he faced scrutiny after he applauded RFEF President Luis Rubiales’ controversial speech at the RFEF assembly last Friday.

Rubiales has faced widespread criticism after he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips in the aftermath of Spain’s 1-0 victory against England in the final on 20 August.

Addressing Vilda directly on Friday, Rubiales called him the best coach in women’s football and offered him a new four-year contract worth €500,000 (£429,000) a year.

Spain's head coach Jorge Vilda after winning the World Cup final. Pic: AP
Jorge Vilda after winning the World Cup final. Pic: AP

By Saturday, Vilda had changed his tune, releasing a statement criticising Rubiales, but stopping short of calling for his resignation or dismissal.

“What an incredible turn of events it has been,” Sky News sports correspondent Rob Harris said.

Jorge Vilda celebrates with the team after winning
Vilda lifted up by team after World Cup win

“Vilda was there celebrating Spain’s first ever Women’s World Cup success just over two weeks ago in Sydney, and here he is the latest figure to be departing the national team.”

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‘Eye-opening response’ in Madrid to World Cup kiss

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Even before the World Cup final, Vilda’s leadership was called into question, after 15 Spanish players refused to play for him.

They claimed that they had concerns about their health and emotional state. Only three of those players returned to the fold for the World Cup campaign.

Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 England's Lucy Bronze in action with Spain's Mariona Caldentey as coach Jorge Vilda reacts REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Vilda reacts during Women’s World Cup final

“The day before the final against England, he was asked about these very notable welfare concerns and his response was merely ‘next question please’,” Harris said.

“We have really been awaiting this decision ever since he was seen so closely aligned to Rubiales.”

‘Enormous damage done’

Earlier on Tuesday, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) apologised for the “enormous damage done” in the wake of the kiss, saying Rubiales’ actions do not reflect the federation and that they are “embarrassed” by his actions.

In a statement, they said changes would be made at the top of the organisation.

“We are sorry that this incident has disrupted what should have been an ongoing celebration of football both for our national team and that of England’s Lionesses, who were a truly remarkable rival in a thrilling final,” they said.

Pic:Noe L amas/SPP/Shutterstock
Rubiales embraces Spanish forward Hermoso. Pic:Noe L amas/SPP/Shutterstock

Rubiales was also handed a provisional suspension from FIFA for 90 days last week, amid his refusal to step down, despite widespread mounting pressure upon him to do so from within Spanish football and the government.

In the wake of calls for him to step down, the 46-year-old issued a fresh defence in which he admitted he had made “some obvious mistakes” which he sincerely regrets, but at no time was there any aggression or discomfort when the kiss occurred.

“I repeat: with the consent of both parties, both in the affectionate hugs, as well as in the peak and subsequent farewell full of affectionate mutual gestures, that occurred on the medals delivery stage,” he said.

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