Jorge Vilda sacked as Spanish football coach in new fallout to World Cup kiss scandal

The coach has been removed, 10 days after Luis Rubiales was suspended for his kiss on Jenny Hermoso.

Jorge Vilda, pictured here alongside Luis Rubiales and Jenny Hermoso.
Jorge Vilda (L) has been sacked amid the scandal over Luis Rubiales' kiss on Jenny Hermoso (R). Image: Getty

Jorge Vilda has been sacked as Spain's women's football coach in a shock new twist to the kiss scandal that rocked the recent World Cup in Australia. The Spanish Federation announced on Tuesday night that Vilda would be replaced by his assistant Montse Tome - who is the first woman to take charge of the women's national team.

Tome had been Vilda's assistant coach since 2018 and helped him steer Spain to glory at the Women's World Cup. The Spanish federation (RFEF) said Tome has "established herself as a key player in the national team's growth".

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Vilda's sacking comes 10 days after FIFA suspended the country's federation president Luis Rubiales for kissing star player Jenni Hermoso on the mouth while celebrating Spain's World Cup triumph. A new board, which was formed after Rubiales was suspended, opted to terminate Vilda's contract.

A statement released by the federation gave no reason for Vilda's dismissal and did not mention Hermoso, Rubiales or the scandal. The RFEF thanked the 42-year-old for his "extraordinary sporting legacy". The statement said: "The coach has been key to the remarkable growth of women's football and leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings."

In a separate statement by interim President Pedro Rocha, the RFEF apologised for Rubiales' "inappropriate conduct". A three-page statement signed by Rocha said: "The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous."

Jorge Vilda and Montse Tome.
Jorge Vilda and Montse Tome (R) at the Women's World Cup. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Vilda's time at the helm has produced brilliant results on the field, but plagued by off-field turmoil. The coach, who was considered a close ally of Rubiales, had been under fire since last year after 15 players staged a mutiny and called for his resignation because of inadequate coaching methods and inappropriate conduct. Most of the players involved were cut from the squad, even after some demands were met.

Before his suspension, Rubiales had praised Vilda for the World Cup triumph and offered him a new four-year contract. Fifty-eight of Spain's top female players said they would not play for the national team again under the existing leadership, and the RFEF reportedly responded by asking players if the removal of Vilda would change that.

Luis Rubiales and Jorge Vilda at a ceremony in Spain after the Women's World Cup.
Luis Rubiales (bottom left) and Jorge Vilda (R) at a ceremony in Spain after the Women's World Cup. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Luis Rubiales claims he's the victim of a 'witch hunt'

Speaking over the weekend, Rubiales maintained his stance that he was the victim in the scandal. "I committed some evident mistakes, for which I sincerely repent," he said on Friday. He insisted the kiss with Hermoso was "mutual, consensual and occurred in a moment of euphoria".

"During all this time I have suffered an unprecedented lynching by news outlets and politicians that has completely marginalised me. Not just in Spain but internationally."

In a statement issued two weeks ago, Hermoso said she considered herself the victim of abuse of power and accused the federation of trying to pressure her into supporting Rubiales. A Spanish government legal panel has since opened a formal case against Rubiales.

The hope is to remove him independently of a FIFA process that has already suspended him provisionally. The government panel will decide if Rubiales abused his authority by kissing Hermoso or damaged the image and reputation of Spain at a sporting event. He could be banned from office for two years.

with AAP

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