Mutiny by email

At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, the email server of the Spanish football federation RFEF “pinged” fifteen times. And that set the RFEF on fire.

Fifteen players from the Spanish national team – which does not include the knee-injured world footballer Alexia Putella from FC Barcelona – sent identically worded electronic letters to the RFEF, in which they stated identically that they were currently unable because of their “emotional and therefore health condition”. to take part in the next games of the national team. The RFEF is aware of the situation; one is only available again for international matches when “the situation” has been corrected. In which form? But that was the result of the federation’s harsh response: “The RFEF will not allow the players to question the continuation of the tenure of the national coach and his team.”

Spain's women's team: Difficult cooperation: There is obviously a huge crunch between coach Jorge Vilda (left) and his team around captain Irene Paredes (right).

Difficult cooperation: There is obviously a huge crunch between coach Jorge Vilda (left) and his team around captain Irene Paredes (right).

(Photo: Miguel Tona/Imago)

A few weeks ago, the national players are said to have demanded the head of Jorge Vilda – which they denied at a press conference in early September. In media reports, citing anonymous sources from the team, there was talk of deep sporting divergences. They broke up after the disappointing European Championship 2022, Spain were eliminated after the preliminary round. Accordingly, the players would have complained about Vilda’s alleged incompetence. He doesn’t pay attention to reservists, offers miserable training and is often wrong when it comes to treating injuries. While the Spanish public wondered if that was all – there is no indication it could be otherwise – the federation seethed. “It is a situation that is unprecedented in the history of football, both men and women, both in Spain and worldwide.”

The Spaniards are supported: US soccer player Megan Rapinoe describes herself as the “16th player”

Of course, that can be easily refuted: the women’s teams of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid forced the dismissal of their respective coaches Lluís Cortés (2017) and David Aznar (2021) by epistle. However: In men’s teams, the written word is rarely part of the modus operandi when an unpopular coach is to be dismissed; However, the case of the French men’s team at the 2010 World Cup became famous when they forced their coach Raymond Domenech to read out a communiqué. Millions of men’s professional teams are more likely to deliver a handful of bad games and garnish them with discreetly placed hints about real or supposed tactical mistakes by the manager in the specialist media. The Spaniards have, however, received feedback from US international Megan Rapinoe. You could count on her “as the 16th player,” wrote the women’s soccer icon.

Either way, the RFEF’s reaction was to wave a fence post higher than the skyscraper in Madrid named after Picasso. “According to current Spanish law, failing to be called up to a national team is considered a serious offense that can result in a suspension of between two and five years,” wrote the RFEF. So far, this has only been implemented by two separatists: the Galician Nacho (Celta de Vigo) and Inaxio Kortabarria (Real Sociedad). In the past century.

After all, the association announced that it did not want to go to extremes. “The federation will only count on footballers who feel they have a duty – and if they have to play with youngsters.” The mutineers would not be allowed to play for Spain again until they had acknowledged their “mistake” and “asked for forgiveness”. Sports Minister José Manuel Franco also intervened: “Representing your country is the highest a Spaniard can aspire to!” he exclaimed on the Cope radio station. By the way, according to reports, he meant the Spaniards at the same time. How things will continue is open. A continuation of the drama about the mutiny of the fifteen is considered certain.

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