Sam Marsdencorrespondent in Barcelona6 minute read
This week she was one of the big absentees, along with her club partner. Patri Guijarroof provisional squad of 30 players announced by coach Jorge Vilda for this summer season Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The list will be reduced to 23 on June 30.
León and Guijarro were among 15 players who simultaneously wrote to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) in September 2022, saying that conditions within the national team had affected their health and mental state. Until there were changes and improvements they did not want to be summoned.
The players have always maintained that they wanted their complaints addressed privately, not publicly in the press.
“It is an issue that must be dealt with and resolved internally because what has happened this year has not been pleasant for anyone,” said the Barcelona midfielder. Aitana Bonmatíone of the 15 recently told ESPN. “The only ones who know exactly what is happening are (the players) and the RFEF.”
However, the RFEF has not always been on the same page. His initial response in September was to call the riot “unprecedented.” and promises “not to allow the players to question the coach’s continuity.”
Sources consulted by ESPN at the time said that it was not necessarily a matter of Vilda, who has been coach since 2015, continuing in his position, but rather that the entire framework of the national team was improved and professionalized.
The situation continued this year until, in recent months, with the World Cup in sight, the players were forced to reconsider their positions and priorities.
On Monday, Vilda named three of the 15 in his provisional team for the final. Bonmati, who was recently named UEFA Women’s Champions League Player of the Season, her Barça teammate Mariona Caldentey and manchester united side Ona Batlle everyone returned to the fold.
Five other players, sources told ESPN, had also declared themselves available for selection, including the Barça goalkeeper. Sandra Panos. However, Vilda, emboldened by a streak of one loss in nine games without the 15 (including a first victory over USA — furthermore, with a sense of loyalty towards those who entered the team, he did not choose them.
“It is especially difficult to understand why he (Panos) has not been chosen,” said a source, noting that four goalkeepers have been called up in the provisional squad, including Panos’s substitute at club level. catalina cabbage.
There were several factors behind those eight players being available for the national team at the World Cup. Sources say the RFEF has implemented changes since September 2022. Travel to camps and games has improved significantly, the quality of opponents in friendlies has increased and new staff have been appointed to help with physical work and prevention. and injury rehabilitation. Players are also said to have more freedom during meetings, whereas before they felt too much control was exerted over them.
For seven players this was not enough. León, included in the FIFPro World XI this season and a Barça stalwart who has won two of the last three Champions Leagues, put her “values” before her dream of winning a World Cup. Midfielder Guijarro, who scored two goals in the Barça Champions League final. VfL Wolfsburg This month, he did the same.
Beyond the changes, sufficient or not, carried out by the RFEF, the players (some more than others) also suffered enormous external pressure to be available for the World Cup. Every agent, sponsor, and brand wants to see the players they are associated with perform on the game’s biggest stage. Bonmati, fifth in Ballon d’Or voting this year, is being championed as a possible winner next year. A leading role in the World Cup, after a double in the F League and the Champions League with his club, would support his case.
Financially, FIFA’s new payment model guarantees each player who plays in the group stage $30,000, increasing to a potential $270,000 for those on the winning team. Aside from the hundreds of millions wasted on men’s football, that’s a huge amount of money.
Spain will also have two consecutive winners of the Ballon d’Or Alexia Putellas in the world Cup. The Barça midfielder missed the Eurocup last summer, when The Red were eliminated by the eventual winners England, with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. He also missed most of this season, returning for the final six games, which meant that, despite sharing his statement and supporting their cause, he was never officially part of the 15. He never became unavailable for selection and , therefore, it never had to be made available again. After a year of injury pain, the World Cup is the perfect stage to mark his return to fitness.
He will also travel to New Zealand, where Spain will play in the group stage. Irene Paredes. The Barça defender gave the initial press conference to express the players’ dissatisfaction with the conditions with the national team last year. However, he was not part of the 15 and returned to the team in April.
Pachuca striker and historic scorer for Spain Jennifer Hermoso He also returned in February and was named in the 30-player provisional squad. Like Paredes, he supported the declaration of the 15, but did not officially join them.
It creates a complicated backdrop for Spain’s World Cup campaign. While Vilda says the situation is now “pretty much resolved barring a few details” following a series of meetings over the past nine months, the fact that seven players still do not feel they can return paints a different picture. There is also disappointment and surprise at how she has treated some of the other players who were willing to return, like Panos.
Sources, however, insist there is no friction between any of the players, regardless of the contrasting decisions they have made with the World Cup in mind.
It makes it difficult to predict Spain’s chances in the finals, where they will meet. Costa Rica, Zambia and Japan in the group stage. On the one hand, they benefit greatly from the return of Putellas and Bonmati, two of the top five players in the world according to the Ballon d’Or rankings, but they have also performed impressively without them. On the other hand, the events of the last nine months leave a dark cloud over the team, no matter how much Vilda protests to the contrary.
“Some (of the 15) are here and I am convinced that they are going to work to be part of the group and that they are going to fight for the greatest thing in sport, which is to represent your country,” said Vilda, “but I I will not talk about those who are not here. The 30 who are here are athletes. They want to form a strong group, they want to have the best players by their side. Sport unites you. I am convinced that there will be concordance, calm and harmony. .
“Since September, things have happened, but one of the best is how we have played. We beat the United States for the first time, we reached sixth place in the world rankings and we want to climb further, which I am convinced we can achieve.” with these players. It is absurd to think about what is behind us when what is in front is so, so important. “We won’t waste our energy on that.”