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Women's World Cup winners Spain maintain boycott


The new coach of Spain's women's team has had to delay the announcement of her first squad after nearly all of the country's World Cup-winning players maintained their boycott as part of their fight against sexism in soccer.

Spain coach Montse Tomé was set to announce her squad on Friday, but 20 minutes before she was supposed to hold a news conference the federation said it was postponed to a time to be determined.

The federation said the players had rejected their attempts to convince them to return to the team early on Friday.

That leaves Tomé with the difficult decision of whether to still call up the revolting players or select a completely different team for upcoming Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26.

According to Spanish sports law, athletes are required to answer the call of their national teams unless there are circumstances that impede them from playing, such as an injury.

Spain's women have had little chance to celebrate their greatest soccer achievement because Luis Rubiales, the now former president of the federation, caused an uproar when he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips at the awards ceremony in Sydney on August 20.

The team members, along with dozens of other players, responded to his subsequent refusal to step down in the days after the kiss by announcing they would not play for their nation again until the federation underwent deep reforms and had new leadership.

The federation has been in upheaval since. Rubiales was first suspended by soccer governing body FIFA, then his interim replacement fired women's national team coach Jorge Vilda, who was unpopular with players. Rubiales himself eventually resigned under immense pressure.

Many expected the firing of Vilda and the exit of Rubiales would clear the path for the return of the players, but the players want more changes and, it appears, more officials and employees to be removed from the federation.

The players, through the FUTPRO players' union, issued a statement Friday signed by 21 of the 23 World Cup winners, and 18 other players, explaining "the changes that have been made are not sufficient."

In the statement, the players said they want interim president Pedro Rocha, who was picked to succeed him by Rubiales, to also step down; the women's team staff to be overhauled; and for personnel changes to also be made to the cabinet of the federation's presidency and secretary general, the press relations and marketing department, and their integrity department charged with fighting discrimination.

"The charges we specified to the federation are based on showing zero tolerance toward people, who from their position in the federation, have practised, incited, covered up or applauded attitudes that discriminate against women," the players' statement read.

They concluded their statement by saying "what most fills us with pride is wearing the shirt of the national team."

Athenea del Castillo and Claudia Zornoza, both Real Madrid players, were the only two women from the World Cup team not to sign the statement.

Zornoza said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter,  she was retiring from international soccer at the age of 32.

Last year, 15 players similarly rebelled, asking for more "professional" coaching from Vilda.

The federation - led by Rubiales - firmly backed Vilda, and only three of those players relented and were eventually included in the World Cup squad.