The turmoil within world champions Spain’s national football team has escalated as 15 members of the World Cup-winning squad have declined call-ups for international duty.
These players were originally included in the squad for the Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland, despite their earlier declaration of a boycott.
Three weeks ago, a group of 81 players, which encompassed the entire 23-member World Cup squad, announced their refusal to play for Spain as long as Luis Rubiales remained as the president of the Spanish football federation due to his conduct during the final.
Rubiales sparked a significant controversy by kissing midfielder Jenni Hermoso—now omitted from the latest squad—on the lips during the medal ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England. Hermoso has asserted that she did not consent to the kiss.
Under mounting pressure, Rubiales ultimately resigned from his position last week. However, on Friday, 39 players, including 21 World Cup winners, released a statement asserting that his resignation was insufficient to prompt their return to national team duty.
They maintained that they still did not feel “in a safe place” to make their return and contended that the issues within the Spanish football federation went beyond Rubiales.
Despite the players’ initial pledge to boycott, many of them were still named in the squad for Monday’s matches by the new head coach, Montse Tome, who cited Hermoso’s exclusion as a protective measure.
The players released a statement on Monday night which explained: “What was expressed in our statement makes clear and without any option for another interpretation our firm will not to be summoned for justified reasons.
“These statements are still fully valid.”
Spain are due to face Sweden on Friday before returning home to host Switzerland on September 26.