Patri Guijarro back in Spain women’s squad ahead of Olympics

Patri Guijarro has returned to the Spain national team almost two years after first declaring herself unavailable.

The Barcelona midfielder is one of 26 players called up for two upcoming European Championship qualifiers and the Olympic Games later this summer.

After the qualifiers against Czechia and Belgium, coach Montse Tomé will have to cut the squad to 18 for the Olympics, with a further four players to be named as backups.

Guijarro’s inclusion represents a further thawing of the relationship between the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the 15 players who refused to play for the team under the previous regime in September 2022.

Some of those 15, including Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona Caldentey, returned for the World Cup, which Spain won last year.

However, after success in Australia, the players once again withdrew their availability for the national team after the fallout which followed disgraced president Luis Rubiales’ forced kiss on midfielder Jenni Hermoso.

That provoked deep changes at the RFEF, with Rubiales eventually resigning and the coach of the women’s team, Jorge Vilda, being replaced by Tomé.

Rubiales, who has been replaced by Pedro Roche, will stand trial next February on charges of sexual assault and coercion for his behaviour after the World Cup final.

There had been further structural changes at the RFEF, too, and promises to the players that the women’s team will be treated more professionally, but Guijarro still opted not to return.

The Barça midfielder, along with club teammate Mapi León, had been called up by Tomé last September, but she said it was not the right moment to come back.

Guijarro’s inclusion in the latest squad brings fresh hope that Spain are making progress and moving on from a difficult period in the team’s history despite all their success — they followed up their Word Cup win by lifting the UEFA Nations League and are now targeting a first ever gold medal at the Games.

León, meanwhile, only returned from a serious injury at the end of the season and has not been called up by Tomé.

It remains unclear if she will make herself available again, as Guijarro has done, when she is fully fit.