Jorge Vilda: Former Spain Women’s head coach says sacking ‘unfair’ as Luis Rubiales controversy fallout continues | Football News

Jorge Vilda has branded his sacking as Spain Women’s head coach only weeks after winning the World Cup as “unfair”.

Vilda, who led Spain to a 1-0 win over England in the World Cup final on August 20, was dismissed by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Tuesday, with Montse Tome named as his successor.

Vilda’s departure came amid the continued fallout to suspended RFEF president Luis Rubiales’ behaviour during the on-field celebrations following Spain’s triumph in Sydney.

“I am as well as you can be having being fired after being world champion 10 days ago,” Vilda said in an interview with Cadena SER. “I believe I have been fired unfairly.

Jorge Vilda led Spain to their first Women’s World Cup on August 20 but has now been sacked

“In sporting terms, I am going to accept all criticism, but on a personal level, I believe it has been unfair.

“It has been a special year, I’ve seen it as a Master’s degree. Nothing has ever been said directly but indirectly things have been said that do not sit well with me. Things have been said that are not true.”

He added of his dismissal: “It was a brief meeting with Pedro Rocha and the vice president of Equality. The explanation is that there have been ‘structural changes’.

“After everything I’ve achieved, after having given my 100 per cent, my conscience is clear. I don’t understand the firing, I didn’t think I deserved it.”

All 11 of Vilda’s backroom colleagues had already resigned in protest over the ongoing crisis surrounding Rubiales, who was pictured kissing Spain forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips.

Vilda himself came under fire for applauding Rubiales’ extraordinary comments during a subsequent press conference, in which the RFEF president repeatedly refused to resign and hit out at “fake feminists”.

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Speaking ahead of his removal, LaLiga TV’s Semra Hunter said she was ‘not surprised’ the Spanish FA were considering the dismissal of Spain head coach Jorge Vilda

The speech led to all 23 of Spain’s World Cup squad ruling themselves out of selection while the president remained in post.

During the speech, Rubiales also name-checked Vilda as the best coach in women’s football and assured him of a new €500,000-a-year, four-year contract.

Vilda eventually released a statement criticising Rubiales but stopped short of calling for his resignation or dismissal.

Asked to explain his applause for Rubiales, Vilda said: “I will never applaud anything sexist. I didn’t really know why I was going to that [press conference]. I thought there was going to be a resignation.

“The president valued my work and announced my renewal and I applauded that. I also applaud Rubiales’ management of women’s football with a budget that has multiplied by four.

“Also, when 150 people around you are applauding, it is very difficult to be the only one who isn’t.”

Jorge Vilda was backed by Luis Rubiales when 15 Spain players went on strike last year - but reportedly has paid the price for his actions surrounding the suspended president's 'kissgate' row
Jorge Vilda was backed by Luis Rubiales when 15 Spain players went on strike last year – but has paid the price for his actions surrounding the suspended president’s actions at the Women’s World Cup final

The 42-year-old had long cut a controversial figure in his role as Spain head coach. Last September, 15 players wrote to the RFEF threatening to boycott the team if Vilda was not sacked, with sources claiming their unhappiness centred around the management of injuries, the atmosphere in the locker room, his team selection and training sessions.

Rubiales stood by Vilda at that point and threatened mutinous players with bans up to a possible five years though three of the co-signatories, Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey were later included in his World Cup squad.

The tide began to turn against him during a meeting of regional FA leaders on August 28 with interim RFEF president Rocha, acting after Rubiales’ suspension by FIFA, during which calls were made for Vilda to be removed as part of a restructure at the top of the federation.

That restructure is now taking place, with Tome, Vilda’s successor, becoming the first woman to be appointed to Spain’s head coach role having previously acted as his assistant.

Assistant Montse Tome has been named as Jorge Vilda's immediate successor by the RFEF
Assistant Montse Tome has been named as Jorge Vilda’s immediate successor by the RFEF

‘There are questions as to how players will respond to Tome’s appointment’

Spanish football expert Semra Hunter:

“It’s great that, for the first time, a woman is holding this position, but if you listen to a lot of the people who are in the know, players themselves who know Montse Tome, they will tell you they have very serious doubts and they are not quite sure she is the right person for the job.

“She doesn’t have experience level, she’s never been a first-team head coach and she has been the assistant to Vilda since 2018. So she is a continuation of the philosophy and the methodology that were already put into practice, even if she was one of those 11 that resigned after Rubiales gave his speech.

“The thing is, there are a lot of questions about how the players themselves are going to take this, because they haven’t said anything as of yet.

“Some Spanish media are saying the players, more or less, got along with her quite well over the last few years, then others are saying no because she was very much on the side of Vilda when everything went down a year ago with those 15 players sending the email to the federation. The rifts and the fractures are still very much there among a lot of these players.

“Yes, it’s great to have a woman take up the role, but this would have been a brilliant opportunity to find the right person, male or female, somebody who was qualified, with the credentials to take up the position of now leading the best women’s team in the world at present. It will be interesting to see what the response is.”

The rise and fall of Vilda: A timeline

July 2015: Succeeds Ignacio Quereda as Spain head coach after he is sacked for poor performance during 2015 Women’s World Cup.

September 2018: Finishes eighth at FIFA Best Awards for best women’s coach after overseeing Spain’s qualification for their second ever World Cup, while also leading U19s to Euros victory.

June 2019: Achieves qualification from World Cup group for first time in Spain’s history, but beaten by winners USA in last 16.

September 2022: 15 Spain players write letter criticising RFEF and calling for Vilda’s dismissal after poor Euro 2022 performance, and refuse to represent country while he remains in post. RFEF president Luis Rubiales publicly backs manager and threatens mutinous players with five-year ban from selection.

May 2023: Three of those 15 are named in Vilda’s World Cup squad – Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey and Ona Batlle.

August 20, 2023: Vilda leads Spain to first major trophy with World Cup final victory over England in Sydney, but is booed in the stadium when his name is read out.

August 25, 2023: Appears alongside men’s manager Luis de la Fuente in front row of press conference in which Rubiales repeatedly refuses to resign and hits out at critics for kissing Spain forward Jenni Hermoso – and is pictured applauding RFEF president’s comments. Rubiales publicly promises Vilda new, improved contract during speech.

August 26, 2023: Spain women’s coaching staff, with the notable exception of manager Vilda, resign en masse. Vilda later criticises Rubiales’ conduct in a statement issued to Spanish press, but does not call on him to resign. Spain’s entire World Cup-winning squad later refuse to play internationally again until Rubiales leaves office.

August 28, 2023: With Rubiales suspended for 90 days by FIFA, regional heads of Spanish football demand Rubiales’ resignation as reports claim the RFEF has asked UEFA to suspend its teams from international competition.

September 5, 2023: In a statement from interim president Pedro Rocha, the RFEF apologises for the “enormous damage” caused by Rubiales’ actions, and promises organisational restructure.

September 5, 2023: Vilda is sacked by RFEF, in a statement praising him for his role in advancing Spain’s women’s teams.

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