MADRID (AP) — The Spanish soccer federation fired women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda on Tuesday, less than three weeks after his team won the Women’s World Cup title and amid the controversy involving suspended federation president Luis Rubiales.
The coach was among those who applauded Rubiales when he refused to resign despite facing widespread criticism for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the title celebrations in Sydney last month.
Rubiales, who also grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture after the final, has been provisionally suspended by FIFA and is facing a Spanish government case against him for the conduct that prompted a storm of criticism and led to widespread calls for his resignation.
Vilda later said Rubiales’ behavior was improper. Men’s coach Luis de la Fuente also applauded Rubiales’ diatribe against what he called “false feminists,” and apologized on Friday for having clapped in what he described an “inexcusable human error.”
The captains of Spain’s men’s national team on Monday condemned Rubiales’ “unacceptable behavior” in a show of support for the Women’s World Cup-winning team.
Vilda was at the helm at the World Cup even though some players rebelled against him less than a year ago in a crisis that put his job in jeopardy. Fifteen players stepped away from the national team for their mental health, demanding a more professional environment. Only three returned to the squad that won the World Cup.
Vilda was heavily backed by Rubiales throughout the process.
The president currently in charge of the Spanish soccer federation, Pedro Rocha, released a letter on Tuesday apologizing to the soccer world and to society in general for Rubiales’ behavior.
Rocha said the federation had the responsibility to ask for “the most sincere apologies to the soccer world as a whole,” as well as to soccer institutions, fans, players — especially of the women’s national team — “for the totally unacceptable behavior of its highest representative.”
“In no way his behavior represents the values of Spanish society as a whole, its institutions, its representatives, its athletes and the Spanish sports leaders,” Rocha wrote.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.