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Spanish coach sacked amid Rubiales kiss fallout

Jorge Vilda was reportedly a close ally of the under-fire federation president Luis Rubiales

Jorge Vilda, the Spanish coach who led his country’s female team to victory in last month’s World Cup in Australia, has been fired as the fallout continues from football federation president Luis Rubiales’ apparently non-consensual kiss of player Jenni Hermoso.

“We value [Vilda’s] impeccable persona and sporting conduct, being a key piece in the notable growth of women’s football in Spain,” a statement issued by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said on Tuesday. “The RFEF would like to express its gratitude for the services provided.”

Vilda had come under fire for initially appearing to be supportive of federation chief Luis Rubiales, who sparked international outcry last month by kissing Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation following the team’s World Cup final win against England.

Rubiales later said the kiss had been consensual; a claim later denied by Hermoso. He was suspended for an initial 90 days by FIFA in late August while the sport’s governing body investigated his conduct.

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A day after his return to Spain, Vilda said in a statement that Rubiales’ actions had been “inappropriate and unacceptable.” Media reports have described Vilda as a close ally of Rubiales, who had stated his intention to award the now-removed coach with a new four-year contract worth around €500,000 ($536,000) per year.

On the same day that Vilda issued his statement, almost all of his coaching staff resigned en masse, citing what they referred to in a joint statement as Rubiales’ “unacceptable attitude.” At least 15 players also indicated their refusal to represent the national team until hierarchical changes were made within the infrastructure of the RFEF.

The Spanish federation described the move to part ways with Vilda as being among a series of “renewal measures” to be made by the federation under the administration of interim president Pedro Rocha. It did not elaborate on the specific reasoning for terminating Vilda’s employment in its statement on Tuesday.

Vilda, 42, who had been head coach for eight years, has been replaced by his former assistant Montse Tome. She becomes the first female coach in RFEF history to be appointed to the role.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rocha issued an apology to the “whole of the football world” in light of the Rubiales scandal. He added that the organization’s intention was to now “give back the spotlight” to the World Cup-winning players.

September 06, 2023 at 12:26AM

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