Just a fortnight after clinching the Women’s World Cup trophy for Spain, Coach Jorge Vilda finds himself jobless. This development ensues the infamous incident where Luis Rubiales, the President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, unexpectedly kissed player Jenni Hermoso during the victory celebrations.
The Kiss That Sparked a Nationwide Debate
When Spain vanquished England with a 1-0 victory on August 20th, it was a momentous occasion. The Spanish women’s soccer team won their first-ever World Cup, igniting nationwide jubilance. However, the euphoria was quickly replaced by national conversations critiquing the deeply ingrained patriarchal customs of Spain.
Initially, Jorge Vilda had rallied behind Rubiales, opposing the growing call for the federation president’s ouster. However, as time passed, Vilda became increasingly vocal about his concerns, stating that Rubiales’ actions had marred “an otherwise well-earned triumph for our team and nation.”
In a detailed public statement, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) admitted to the societal “harm inflicted” by Rubiales’ impromptu kiss. The Federation emphasized that such actions were unrepresentative of Spanish values, in both sports and broader societal contexts. Still, Rubiales remains in his position, albeit under a 90-day suspension mandated by FIFA.
Shockingly, the federation’s announcement regarding Vilda’s exit did not reference Rubiales or the scandalous kiss that catapulted the federation into the limelight. This leaves many questions unanswered regarding the timing and reasons behind this managerial shift.
Vilda: A Contentious Figure Prior to the Scandal
It’s worth noting that even before this incident, Coach Jorge Vilda was a polarizing personality within Spanish soccer. About a year back, multiple players had openly voiced their reluctance to join the national team, attributing their hesitation to disagreements with Vilda’s coaching methodologies and perceived sexism within the federation.
In a formal statement released on Tuesday, the federation lauded Vilda for his contributions, his professionalism, and his commitment over the years. “He departs the federation with an exceptional sporting legacy,” the statement read, making special note of Vilda’s systematic approach that has been a cornerstone of the national women’s soccer development.
While the federation’s statement was fulsome in its praise for the outgoing coach, it failed to hint at any potential successors. The silence here leaves a vacuum, casting a shadow on the future of women’s soccer in Spain.
Rubiales has been defiant amidst the mounting global critique, refusing to relinquish his post. He is currently observing a 90-day suspension from FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, but his future remains uncertain as the nation grapples with the fallout from this highly publicized event.
By exploring these multiple dimensions of the controversy, we gain a deeper insight into the complexities of sports politics and gender dynamics, both within Spain and on the world stage. The actions of one individual—Rubiales—have led to a series of repercussions, triggering an extensive reevaluation of not just sportsmanship and leadership, but also of cultural norms and societal values.