New Spain coach Tome unveils women's team but excludes Hermoso

New Spain coach Montse Tome spoke to reporters on Monday
New Spain coach Montse Tome spoke to reporters on MondayReuters
New Spain coach Montse Tome called up the majority of the Women's World Cup winning players into her squad for upcoming Nations League matches, but left out Jenni Hermoso on Monday -- despite the fact many of them have not ended their strike.

Midfielder Hermoso was in the eye of the storm that shook Spanish football over the past month after former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed her, with 39 players striking from the national team despite his resignation and coach Jorge Vilda's sacking.

Spanish media reported earlier Monday that most of the World Cup winning players would not be included in the squad because they still demanded more changes, with the Spanish federation (RFEF) publishing a statement urging the players to return on Monday afternoon.

Two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas was named in the squad by Tome, along with Barcelona team-mates Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro, a duo who were not at the World Cup because of another protest against the RFEF and Vilda.

Tome named 15 players who were part of the World Cup squad in the list for the Nations League qualifiers against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26 respectively, saying she had spoken to the players before doing so.

"I trust in that the players are professionals, they have just become champions of the world, they love the national team, and I know they will be here with us tomorrow," Tome told a news conference.

"Today we start a new era in the national team, that's something good, beautiful, all players have the chance to be here and all have the same opportunities."

Tome said she left Hermoso out of the squad to protect her. "We are with Jenni on everything, and with all the players," added the new coach.

"The best way to protect her is like this, I have worked five years with her."

It is not clear whether the striking players called up by Tome want to be part of the Spain squad.

Swiss forward Ana Crnogorcevic, who signed for Atletico Madrid this summer from Barcelona labelled Tome's squad "disrespectful".

"This is insane... how can you threaten your own players like this... call them to the national team, when they said they want clear changes before they come back!" wrote Crnogorcevic on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

"This is soooo disrespectful... clearly they don't care… and they dont allow them to make their own decision."

Previously, while Rubiales was still in charge, the RFEF reminded the striking players that they would be obliged to come if called up, regardless of their strike.

Chain of events

Rubiales kissed Hermoso during the medal ceremony after Spain beat England in Sydney on August 20, provoking a fierce worldwide backlash.

Expected to resign at an emergency RFEF meeting, Rubiales railed against false feminism and said he was going nowhere.

Vilda, Tome and Spain's men's coach Luis de la Fuente were criticised for applauding Rubiales's fiery discourse.

"We had to come because they told us to - the things that happened there I didn't feel part of," said Tome.

"The two times I applauded were when he said that we are all world champions and when they told me that I was going to be the sporting director."

Rubiales' speech led to 81 women's players going on strike and most of Vilda's coaching staff, including his assistant Tome, offering their resignations to the RFEF.

Vilda was sacked on September 5, with Rubiales resigning on September 10, later appearing in Spain's top criminal court as part of an investigation into sexual assault and coercion regarding the kiss.

Despite their departures, 39 players, including the vast majority of the World Cup winners, had said they would not come back until further conditions were met, including reshaping certain departments within the RFEF, currently led by interim president Pedro Rocha.

"Players are urged to join this change led by the federation, understanding that the changes that must continue have to be solid and fair," said the RFEF earlier Monday in a statement.

It appeared a last-ditch attempt to lure the players back.

The RFEF said "difficult decisions" had been made in recent days and the process would continue, as the federation itself "is aware of the need to make structural changes".

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