Spain’s World Cup-Winning Coach Jorge Vilda Dismissed Amidst Controversy

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Football

Jorge Vilda, the coach who led Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning team, was dismissed on Tuesday by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), as the fallout from Luis Rubiales’ controversial conduct unfolds.

Following FIFA’s suspension of Luis Rubiales as the president of the Spanish FA for 90 days due to his unsolicited kiss on forward Jenni Hermoso, the committee of regional presidents overseeing the RFEF, led by Pedro Rocha, notified Vilda of his termination. Later in the day, Rocha was scheduled to meet with Victor Francos, president of Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD).

Montse Tomé was named as Vilda’s replacement by the RFEF. She is the first woman to ever coach the Spain women’s team and had been Vilda’s assistant coach since 2018.

The RFEF issued a statement apologizing for Rubiales’ “totally unacceptable behavior” and expressed its cooperation with disciplinary actions against him.

In their statement, the RFEF acknowledged Vilda’s contributions, stating, “The coach has been key to the notable growth in women’s football and left Spain as World Champion and second in FIFA ranking.”

In an interview with Cadena Ser’s El Larguero radio show, Vilda expressed his belief that his dismissal was “unfair,” citing “structural changes” as the given explanation. He voiced his commitment to the team’s upcoming endeavors, including the Nations League and the Olympic Games.

Vilda’s sacking comes in the wake of Rubiales’ conduct, which prompted all 23 members of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad, along with 58 other current and former players, to declare that they would not return to play for the national team if the current management persisted.

Joan Soteras, president of the Catalan Football Federation and a member of the RFEF committee of regional presidents, had hinted at Vilda’s removal, emphasizing the need for structural changes in women’s football.

Vilda, who had held the position since 2015, oversaw Spain’s historic World Cup victory against England in 2022. However, Rubiales’ actions and subsequent controversy have cast a shadow over the achievement. Alongside FIFA’s suspension, prosecutors have initiated a preliminary sexual assault investigation into the incident.

Despite initially being backed by Rubiales, Vilda faced criticism for his handling of the situation and applauded Rubiales’ speech during last September’s crisis with Spain’s women’s team. The recent resignation of key staff members and his belated criticism of Rubiales contributed to his dismissal.

Vilda clarified that his applause for Rubiales was misinterpreted and that he did not support anything contrary to equality and respect. He also revealed that he had not communicated with Rubiales since the assembly.

Vilda’s coaching journey began in 2009 when he joined the RFEF as an assistant coach to his father, Angel, with the under-19 women’s team. He later coached the U17s and U19s before assuming the role of the senior team coach in 2015.

Under Vilda’s leadership, Spain faced setbacks in knockout games at major tournaments, including Euro 2017, the 2019 World Cup, and Euro 2022. The players had voiced concerns about various aspects of the team’s preparation and management, leading to calls for change within the RFEF. Ultimately, 15 players announced their refusal to play for the national team until significant changes were implemented, setting the stage for Vilda’s departure.

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