from the Rubiales affair to the management of a new status… How Spain digested its first world title

World champion, La Roja can win a new trophy on Wednesday in the Nations League final against France. Proof of the resilience of the players, performing well despite their fight against the ex-president of their federation.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial


Reading time: 4 min

A joy worthy of the event. By crushing the Netherlands (3-0) four days ago, the Spanish selection has certainly reached the final of the League of Nations, where it will face the Blues on Wednesday February 28 (7 p.m.). But the main thing was elsewhere for La Roja, qualified thanks to this victory for its first Olympic Games. The scenes of jubilation observed on the Seville pitch at the end of the match also bore witness to this, almost reminiscent of those of August 20, 2023, after the country’s first World Cup victory, won against England in Sydney (1 -0).

Since its success last summer, Spain has had to deal with a new status and the high expectations that come with it. “As they are at the top, the pressure is even greater on the players”confirms journalist Marta Grinan, who follows the Iberians for the Spanish daily A.S.. Who would have imagined the reigning world champions missing the Olympic tournament?

Especially since the selection is still doing wonderfully, in the wake of the twirling Barcelona players Aitana Bonmati and Salma Paralluelo, respectively winner and third of the last Ballon d’Or. “This team has no glass ceiling, said striker Alba Redondo on Friday. Whatever happens, the players will go boldly, without being afraid. I am very proud of the work accomplished in recent months, and to be part of this selection.”

A unit forged in the fight against Luis Rubiales

“Despite a defeat against Italy [2-3 à domicile en décembre]the group is much stronger than during the World Cup”, analyzes Marta Grinan. In addition to having some of the best players on the planet, the Spanish are now inhabited by an unfailing collective strength. A direct consequence of the fight carried out by all the players against Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Federation (RFEF), forced to resign after forcibly kissing Jennifer Hermoso during the celebrations of the first star.

Luis Rubiales forcibly kisses Jennifer Hermoso during the presentation of the world champions trophy to Spain on August 20, 2023 in Sydney (Australia).  (MAXPPP)

Faced with the shock wave that the affair represented, Jorge Vilda, coach criticized for his management methods by his group, was also ousted and replaced on the Spanish bench by Montse Tomé, his assistant since 2018. “We started in a difficult moment, no one chose it, but we took a step forward. We have evolved as a team, as a staff. I congratulate the entire coaching team and the staff, the physios, the doctors… who experienced very difficult situations and who were able to resolve them“, punctuated the coach after the victory against the Netherlands.

Criticized for not embodying a profound change, the former midfielder took the full brunt of the world champions’ strike, refusing their selection for the start of the League of Nations, before an agreement was finally reached with the help of the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “Even if Montse Tomé stayed, there were important changes achieved by the girls. In addition to departures within the staff, improvements were noted in the training conditions. They enjoy more and more professionalism and the same resources as the men’s selection”explains Marta Grinan.

Attendance records with a still bitter taste

However, La Roja is still struggling to attract spectators to its stadiums. The sudden fame of the selection – which had never gone through a knockout round in a major competition before the World Cup – obviously had an effect, with an attendance record broken three times in their four receptions since September. But the approximately 21,000 people present at the La Cartuja Olympic stadium on Friday remain (very) far from competing with the 90,000 aficionados Catalans already recorded on certain FC Barcelona women’s matches.

“The RFEF must invest as much in the women’s team as Barça. There, for the Netherlands, the location of the match was changed two weeks before [le club de Cadix ayant refusé de prêter son enceinte car il y jouait deux jours plus tard] and the weak promotion of the event in the city did not help to bring in more people”estimates the journalist, present in Seville for A.S.. Despite a surprising schedule for the final (7 p.m.), the Spanish Federation hopes to reach a new milestone in terms of spectators on Wednesday and is betting big on this day, a public holiday in Andalusia.

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