Some of the members of the Spanish women's team showed up for team training on Tuesday despite their expressed desire not to be called up by insisting on their demands for changes in the national soccer federation.
Local media broadcast images of the players arriving at a hotel in Madrid, where they had a brief meeting before embarking for Valencia, a day after the new coach Montse Tomé ignored their demands not to be taken into account until that their demands for reforms in the federation are met.
The players expressed on Monday in a statement that the call took them by surprise and that they do not contemplate ending their boycott, but not appearing at the concentration carries the risk of breaking Spanish legislation that requires athletes to comply with the calls to the national teams unless there are circumstances that prevent it such as an injury.
One player, goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez, responded with a “no” when asked if she was happy to be with the team in Madrid.
Instead of calming the situation with the call, the federation's decision caused the national government to intervene to mediate directly with the players.
Víctor Francos, president of the Higher Sports Council, said that he will meet with the players in Valencia on Tuesday. He also criticized the federation's handling of the situation.
“The Government has allowed the federation to speak with the players, it has left all the room for maneuver, that is why we have been so prudent not to even speak with any of them until what has happened has happened,” Francos told the channel. La Sexta on Spanish television. “But yesterday we made a fool of ourselves as a country, it is unacceptable and this morning I have contacted some of them.”
He added that the players “were bad, very bad.”
“The truth is that the impression I have had is negative in the worst of ways. I have not seen resentment, I have not seen bad manners, I have seen regret, sadness and fatigue, and that is why I have decided to go support them,” she indicated.
This is the latest embarrassing episode in Spanish soccer, mired in a crisis caused when the former president of the federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain won the World Cup last month.
Hermoso, who claims she did not consent to be kissed during the ceremony, accused the federation of trying to intimidate the players by summoning them against their will.
In a statement published early on Tuesday, the forward of Pachuca of Mexico said that the decision to call up almost half of the 39 players who stated that they did not want to be included in the call is “indisputable proof” that “ nothing has changed".
“We players are very clear that it is another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions. Another indisputable proof that shows that nothing has changed today and that confirms the reason why we are fighting and how we are doing it.”
The players had indicated that they would not accept being called up unless their demands for significant changes and new leadership in the federation were met, but Tomé cited 15 of the players who won Spain's first title in a women's World Cup.
Tomé did not include Hermoso on the list “to protect her,” according to what the selected person said.
"Protect me from what?" Hermoso responded. “We have been looking for weeks, months, for that protection that we have not been able to find within the federation itself. The same people who ask us for trust are the ones who today launch a list with players who have asked to be NOT called up.”
Spain faces a pair of UEFA Nations League matches, the first against Sweden this Friday and then against Switzerland on September 26.