Vilda’s entire coaching staff had already resigned in protest over the behaviour of president Luis Rubiales, who refused to step down after kissing midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the presentation ceremony following Spain’s final win over England.
The former head coach was in the audience and applauded Rubiales at an emergency RFEF general assembly that followed, when the president announced that he had no intention of resigning over his actions in Sydney. During the speech, Rubiales suggested a new four-year contract was on the table for Vilda.
“I invite you to stay with us for the next four years earning €500,000 per year,” Rubiales said. “You deserve it as you are the best coach in the world and you have earned it with the success of the World Cup.”
Rubiales was then suspended by FIFA a day later, pending an investigation into his conduct.
While the focus has been on Rubiales in recent weeks, there have been long-term concerns over Vilda’s coaching methods and the culture he has overseen. As a result of that, 15 Spain players refused to play for their country last year.
Rubiales and the federation remained supportive of Vilda though, threatening that group with bans and insisting they would only be considered for selection again if they “ask for forgiveness”. Three of the 15, Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey, returned for the World Cup.
Vilda has now lost his job though, with Montse Tome replacing him and becoming the first female head coach of Spain’s women’s national team.
Speaking to Spanish radio network Cadena SER after his departure from the national team was confirmed, Vilda insisted his sacking was not justified and claimed he had a “clear conscience”.
“In sporting terms, I am going to accept all the criticisms, but on a personal level I think it has been unfair,” Vilda said.
“It has been a special year. Nothing has ever been said directly, but indirectly things have been said that do not suit me. Things have been said that are not true.”
Vilda added: “The explanation is that there have been ‘structural changes’. After everything I have achieved, of working hard as just another worker, I have a clear conscience. I have given 100 per cent and I don’t understand it - I didn’t see my dismissal as deserved.”
Vilda also responded to criticism of his applause at the general assembly, claiming he did not know what was going to be included in the speech and was applauding “Rubiales’ management” rather than directly supporting the president in response to the Hermoso incident.
“I will never applaud anything sexist,” Vilda said. “I didn’t know very well why I was going to that assembly, I thought there was going to be a resignation.
“The president is valuing your work and announcing your renewal, I applauded that. I also applaud Rubiales’ management of the women’s football, with a budget that has multiplied by four.
“The rest - when 150 people around you applaud, it is very difficult to be the only one who doesn’t.”