Spain Changes Team's Name After Kiss Controversy

Soccer federation dropping 'women' from name in 'conceptual shift'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2023 2:21 PM CDT
Spain's Soccer Team Drops 'Women' From Name
Spanish coach Montse Tome, center, leads a training session Thursday in Gothenburg, Sweden, ahead of the UEFA Nations League soccer match against Sweden.   (Adam Ihse/TT News Agency via AP)

By eliminating the words for "women's soccer" from the name of its national team, the Spanish Football Federation is hoping to show it has changed its view of the sport. Spain made the move toward greater equality this week as part of an agreement between the governing body and its World Cup winning team, which have been in dispute since former federation President Luis Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy ceremony as Spain was crowned world champion in Australia last month. "More than a symbolic change, we want this to represent a conceptual shift, and recognition that soccer is soccer, regardless of who plays it," federation interim President Pedro Rocha said, the AP reports.

The name for the women's team traditionally included the phrase "de fútbol femenino"—translated as "women's soccer." The men's and women's national teams now will both officially be known as "Selección Española de fútbol" or "Spain's national soccer team." European soccer's governing body, UEFA, has previously held informal discussions about how countries can handle such name issues, but no official proposal has been made. Other countries, such as England and US, have created parity in the names by referring to them as the men's and women's national teams. But there is less parity when it comes to leading tournaments. European club soccer's top men's competition is called simply the Champions League. The women's equivalent, however, is called the Women's Champions League.

Likewise, next year's European Championship for men is called Euro 2024. The women's 2025 version is called the Women's Euro. The recent Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand came months after the men's edition, whose official name is the FIFA World Cup. Spain's players brought about federation change after weeks of open rebellion after Rubiales' kiss and the reaction to his behavior. With Spanish soccer engulfed in crisis, Rubiales eventually stepped down, and World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda was fired. On Wednesday most of Spain's players ended a boycott of the national team after the government intervened to help shape an agreement for immediate changes, per the AP. The changes were cast as a way to help further professionalize women's soccer in the country and promote equal pay.

(More women's soccer stories.)

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