Jenni Hermoso accuses Spanish federation of bid to ‘intimidate’ players

Jenni Hermoso Spain footbal

Pachuca’s Spanish midfielder Jenni Hermoso waits to step onto the field to play in the women’s Mexican football league match between Pachuca and Pumas at the Hidalgo stadium in Pachuca, Hidalgo State, Mexico, on September 10, 2023. (Photo by Jaime LOPEZ / AFP)

Football star Jenni Hermoso has accused the Spanish federation of seeking to “intimidate and threaten” the World Cup champion players by calling them up against their will for two Nations League matches.

The Spain international, who was forcibly kissed by former Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales following her team’s triumph in Sydney on August 20, was not included in the squad but expressed her support for the rest of her team-mates.

“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions,” the player, currently with Mexican club Pachuca, said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.

The Rubiales kiss caused international anger and shook the federation, leading to his resignation as well as the dismissal of coach Jorge Vilda.

Vilda was replaced by his number two, Montse Tome.

Montse Tome Spain women's football

New coach of Spain’s female football team Montse Tome (C) poses with a jersey flanked by (from L) Spanish football federation (RFEF) acting president Pedro Rocha, analysts Kiko Melendez and Ruben Jimenez, physiotherapist Blanca Romero, technical assistant coach Irene del Rio, assistant coach Javier Lerga, psychologist Emilio Gonzalez and goalkeeper coach Carlos Sanchez at the Ciudad del Futbol training facilities in Las Rozas de Madrid on September 18, 2023. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

On Friday, 39 players, including 21 of the 23 World Cup players, said in a statement that the conditions were not right for their return to La Roja and called for more changes in various federation departments.

However, on Monday, the new coach called up around 15 of the champions and other signatories to the document to play against Sweden and Switzerland in the Nations League, a tournament that qualifies for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Those called up by Tome who were in the 39 all published a statement on social media, including two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.

In their statement, the Spain players made “clear” their “firm will not to be summoned for justified reasons. These statements are still fully valid”.

The players are summoned to Madrid on Tuesday and, if they fail to attend, they risk heavy fines and between two and 15 years’ suspension of their federation license.

“I want to once again show my full support to my colleagues who have been caught by surprise and forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF,” Hermoso said in her statement.

Spain’s all-time leading scorer was not included in the squad because, according to Tome, it was “the best way to protect her.”

“Protect me from what? And from whom?” Hermoso asked in the statement.

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