Spanish football fires FIFA World Cup-winning women's coach Jorge Vilda

Vilda initally supported suspended federation chief Luis Rubiales in the furore over his forcibly kissing a player.

Controversial Spanish women's football coach Jorge Vilda during the FIFA Women's World Cup. He has now been fired in the wake of the Luis Rubiales (photo: DW)
Controversial Spanish women's football coach Jorge Vilda during the FIFA Women's World Cup. He has now been fired in the wake of the Luis Rubiales (photo: DW)


The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Tuesday, 5 September, fired women's national team coach Jorge Vilda, just over two weeks after his team won the Women's World Cup.

Vilda's departure comes after FIFA and later the RFEF suspended federation president Luis Rubiales over his forcibly kissing forward player Jenni Hermoso during the celebration immediately following Spain's victory in the final.

The scandal that surrounded Rubiales' behaviour triggered a national and worldwide debate over women's rights and men's sexist behaviour.

Soon after, RFEF appointed the first ever woman to the role, naming Montse Tome, assistant coach since 2018, to the top job with the women's national team.

What the football body said

A statement from the RFEF thanked 42-year-old Vilda for his "extraordinary sporting legacy" without mentioning the scandal surrounding Rubiales' impromptu kiss and the subsequent meltdown.

"The coach has been key to the remarkable growth of women's football and leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings," the RFEF statement said.

Considered a close ally of Rubiales, Vilda was among those who applauded Rubiales when he refused to stand down amid widespread criticism for kissing Hermoso on the lips without consent after the Sydney final against England.

Rubiales had gripped Hermoso's head with both hands as he kissed her on the lips, an action that the player has described as unwanted and sexist.

Rubiales also sparked outrage for clutching his crotch in a lewd victory gesture.

The women's squad, plus other players, said they would not play for Spain while the chief remained in post.

Vilda later issued a statement condemning the actions of Rubiales, but many considered it too little, too late.

RFEF makes its own apology

The federation's announcement about Vilda came immediately after the body itself offered its "most sincere apologies" for the "totally unacceptable behaviour" of Rubiales, who FIFA has suspended for 90 days, pending its own assessment of the situation.

The Spanish federation, meanwhile, pledged immediate action to improve its governance and "to repair, as far as possible, the damage caused".

"The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous," the three-page statement signed by interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha said.

At first, the RFEF had staunchly defended Rubiales and even threatened Hermoso with legal action. It's still possible, though it appears increasingly unlikely, that the suspended president will return to his post.

Rubiales had backed Vilda during his past mutiny

Vilda had already been a figure of controversy after 15 players last year staged a mutiny calling for him to quit or be forced out. They had cited inadequate coaching methods and called for conditions to match those of the men's squad.

The footballers also complained of Vilda being too strict and micromanaging them — to the point of telling senior players what they should say in media interviews.

While some of the demands were met, most of the players involved were cut from the squad and Vilda received strong backing from Rubiales.

Men's side lobs own words of criticism

Rubiales eventually found himself with a diminishing number of supporters, although his mother did stage a brief hunger strike in a church in southern Spain, denouncing what she perceived as injustice against her son.

The coach of Spain's men's national soccer team Luis de la Fuente had also applauded Rubiales' refusal to quit and his tirade against "false feminists".

De la Fuente however apologised on Friday, 1 September, for having clapped during Rubiales speech to the federation's assembly, describing it as an "inexcusable human error".

The Spanish men's team on Monday, 4 September, joined in the criticism of Rubiales' actions.

'We want to reject what we consider to be unacceptable behaviour from Mr Rubiales, who has not lived up to the institution he represents,' captain Alvaro Morata said in a statement on behalf of the men's team.

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