Jenni Hermoso backs Spain teammates in head coach dispute

Spain‘s all-time women’s top scorer, Jenni Hermoso, has said the national team’s ongoing hostile situation is “one of the worst times in the history of Spanish women’s football.”

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced last week that 15 players in the women’s national team had threatened to quit, citing their health and emotional state. The players denied they wanted head coach Jorge Vilda to be fired but said their preference not to be selected until there is a commitment to a “professional project.”

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Hermoso, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, was not a part of the group that signed a letter demanding for the situation to be improved but has now expressed her support for them.

“The reality is that I haven’t slept for days, thinking of solutions and looking for explanations to the emptiness so great that I feel inside of me,” Hermoso said in a statement posted on Twitter. “And it is that, after all that we have worked for, that breaks my heart to recognize that we are experiencing the worst moments in the history of women’s football in Spain.

“I want to publicly express my support for all my colleagues who a few days ago decided to communicate their position.

“Not only do I understand your reasons, but I have also experienced many of the feelings and concerns you have communicated.”

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Sources have told ESPN that Spain’s players were upset that the RFEF had made an issue public — that they thought was being dealt with privately — by releasing that statement late Thursday. The players are unhappy with the management of injuries, the atmosphere in the locker room, Vilda’s team selection and his training sessions — with sources adding that players believe their relationship with the head coach has broken down.

“It is important to understand that the situation we are experiencing does not come overnight,” Hermoso said. “It is evident that it is the consequence of a cluster of events, behaviours, decisions, failed attempts and exhaustion from trying to make the player’s voice heard.”

RFEF women’s football director Ana Alvarez said Vilda, who has been in charge since 2015 and is under contract until 2024, has the federation’s full support, adding the federation would not fold to pressure from any player regarding sporting matters. She said RFEF were prepared to call upon “younger and less experienced players” they would because “the national team is above everything.”

Vilda is expected to announce the squad on Friday for upcoming friendlies against Sweden on Oct. 7 and the United States four days later.

Hermoso, who has represented Spain at youth levels and been a member of the senior side since 2012, said she will accept the call-up but hopes a solution can be found.

“I am lucky to have worn the [Spain] jersey for 15 years, and I have tried to enjoy every stage that I have lived to the fullest,” Hermoso said. “In that time, I have always put the group first and this time it will be no different because for me, defending my country is, and always will be, a source of great pride and motivation.

“All of the players that decided to raise their voices are committed to the national team and wish to be part of the preparation process for next year’s World Cup.

“For this reason and from my position as a player fully committed to football, to Spanish women’s football and to the national team, I want to find solutions so that we can put our sport where it deserves to be. I sincerely hope that we will soon see a united, committed and enthusiastic national team again. I will raise my voice and listen to anyone who wants to fix this situation.”