Now Out as Coach, Jorge Vilda Responds

Women's national team coach says he was 'unfairly' fired
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 5, 2023 11:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2023 9:35 AM CDT
Amid Soccer Controversy, One Head Rolls in Spain
Jorge Vilda, Spain's now-former head coach, celebrates with the gold medal after the final of the Women's World Cup soccer match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 20.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
UPDATE Sep 6, 2023 9:35 AM CDT

How is Jorge Vilda doing in the wake of being fired as the coach of Spain's women's national team? "I am as good as one can be after being named world champion 16 days ago, then 10 days ago getting a four-year contract extension, plus the year I had left, and then after today being fired, what I believe to be, unfairly," Vilda said in a Tuesday interview. "I don't understand the decision." As for why he clapped at Luis Rubiales' assembly, "I will never applaud anything sexist," he said, per Yahoo Sports. "I didn't know very well why I was going to that assembly," he said, with CNN reporting he expected Rubiales to announce he would resignation. Rubiales didn't, and he publicly invited Vilda "to stay with us for the next four years earning [$535,000] per year." Said Vilda in the interview, "The president is valuing your work and announcing your renewal, I applauded that."

Sep 5, 2023 11:40 AM CDT

The Spanish soccer federation fired women's national team coach Jorge Vilda on Tuesday, less than three weeks after his team won the Women's World Cup title and amid the controversy involving suspended federation president Luis Rubiales. The coach was among those who applauded Rubiales when he refused to resign despite facing widespread criticism for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the title celebrations in Sydney last month, reports the AP. Rubiales, who also grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture after the final, has been provisionally suspended by FIFA and is facing a Spanish government case against him for the conduct that prompted a storm of criticism and led to widespread calls for his resignation.

Vilda later said Rubiales' behavior was improper. Men's coach Luis de la Fuente also applauded Rubiales' diatribe against what he called "false feminists," and apologized on Friday for having clapped in what he described an "inexcusable human error." The captains of Spain's men's national team on Monday condemned Rubiales' "unacceptable behavior" in a show of support for the Women's World Cup-winning team. Vilda was at the helm at the World Cup even though some players rebelled against him less than a year ago in a crisis that put his job in jeopardy. Fifteen players stepped away from the national team for their mental health, demanding a more professional environment. Only three returned to the squad that won the World Cup.

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The players who left the team had signed a letter complaining about Vilda and the conditions for the national team. Vilda was heavily backed by Rubiales throughout the process. The federation said Vilda was "key to the notable growth of women's soccer" and thanked him for leading Spain's national team to the World Cup title and to No. 2 in the FIFA rankings—its highest ever position. "The federation wants to express its gratitude to Jorge Vilda for the services provided, for his professionalism and his dedication during all these years, wishing him success for the future," the federation said in a statement. "He leaves the federation with an extraordinary sporting legacy thanks to the implementation of a recognized game model and a methodology that has been an engine of growth for all the women's categories of the national team."

(Read more Women's World Cup stories.)

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