Spain lifted their first Women’s World Cup trophy after beating England in the final. But off the field matters have dampened their victory
n Sunday, Spain beat England 1-0 in the World Cup final. It was only the third time Spain had qualified for the tournament.
It has been a remarkable rise for the country, who are one of only two nations to win both the men’s and women’s competitions.
But when the final whistle blew, a curious scene unfolded.
The players piled onto each other in jubilation, but they were not joined by the coaching staff. Two distinct groups celebrated.
This separation is down to the manager, a 42-year-old man called Jorge Vilda. He’s coached the Spanish women’s team since 2015, but last year he fell foul of his players.
Fifteen players wrote letters to the Spanish Football Federation, saying they would not be available for selection while Vilda remained as manager.
According to The Athletic, the players felt they were insufficiently prepared for matches: they arrived to host cities too late and travelled by bus when planes would be more practical.
They also complained about the behaviour of some coaches, claiming they were asked to keep their room doors open in hotels where they were based. They said they were made to tell coaches where – and with whom – they were going if they went for a walk.
Although they never asked for Jorge Vilda to be fired, his relationship with the players completely broke down.
Twelve of the 15 Spanish players who went on strike last year were left out of the 2023 World Cup squad. Despite this, Spain’s womens’ national team went on to win the tournament.
But Vilda shares in this success, and it has raised questions about the Spanish Football Federation and whether the win is actually good for women’s football.
This was compounded after the Spanish Football Federation president kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy celebration.
Hermoso said on an Instagram live video that she ‘didn’t like it’, but later she clarified her position, saying it was a “natural gesture of affection”. The president has since apologised.
Following the win, the Spanish papers were dominated by photos of the victorious team. One headline read: “The world is theirs.”
It should have been a period of unadulterated joy for the Spanish women’s national team. Instead it’s been overshadowed.
Today’s episode was written by Andrew Butler and mixed by Xavier Greenwood.