Some of Spain's World Cup winners reported for training camp on Tuesday despite not wanting to be called up to the national team as they fought for changes in the football association.
Local media showed that some of the players arrived at the hotel where the team will stay in Madrid. Their arrival came a day after new coach Montse Tome ignored their decision not to play until their demands for reforms at the association were met.
The players said in a statement on Monday that they were surprised by the call-up and had no plans to end their boycott. But those who don't show risk violating a Spanish sports law that requires athletes to follow the call of national teams unless there are circumstances that prevent them from playing, such as an injury.
It was the latest embarrassing chapter in Spanish soccer in a crisis sparked by former federation president Luis Rubiales kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain won the Women's World Cup last month.
Hermoso, who said she did not consent to the kiss during the awards ceremony, accused the federation of trying to intimidate the players by nominating them for the national team even though they had asked not to be nominated.
She said in a statement early Tuesday that the federation's decision to recall nearly half of the 39 players who would not play for the national team in protest was “irrefutable evidence” that “nothing has changed.”
The players had made it clear they would not return until their demands for significant change and new leadership at the association were met, but Tome on Tuesday singled out 15 of the players who helped Spain win its first Women's World Cup last month .
Tome removed Hermoso from the list “to protect her,” she said.
“Protect me from what?” said Hermoso. “It was claimed that the environment within the Federation was safe for my colleagues to rejoin, but at the same press conference it was announced that they would not call me to protect me.”
Tome said she has spoken with Hermoso and the other players and is confident they will all report to training camp on Tuesday.
Government intervention is expected
The squad announcement was originally scheduled for Friday, but was postponed because an agreement could not be reached with the players.
Spain's acting culture and sport minister, Miquel Iceta, said on Tuesday that the government would try to help find a solution to the impasse.
“We call on the federation to address the shortcomings of this unusual convocation and to change the federal structures so that it becomes a space of security, competitiveness and professionalism to which the players and all Spaniards are entitled,” Iceta told the local Media. “What you cannot do is continue to commit injustices and harm players who gave their best and won a world title for the first time in history.”
The government said it was talking to the players and the president of the country's sports council – the government's top sports body – was expected to meet with them sometime on Tuesday.
On Monday, the association released a statement publicly reaffirming its commitment to structural changes to players.
“The people asking us to trust them now are the same people who disclosed the list of players who asked NOT to be drafted,” Hermoso said. “The players are sure that this is another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate us and threaten us with legal consequences and economic sanctions.”
The players said Monday they would consider the possible legal consequences of not reporting to training camp but believed the association could not force them to join the team. They argued that the call-up was not made in accordance with current FIFA regulations and that some of the players, particularly abroad, were unable to appear on time.
“I would like to once again express my full support to my colleagues who have been caught off guard and forced to respond to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions in the company.” [the federation]Hermoso said. “That’s why we fight and do it this way.”
The players' demands also included the resignation of interim president Pedro Rocha and a restructuring of the women's team's staff.
Last year, 15 players rebelled against former coach Jorge Vilda and demanded a more professional environment. Tome, an assistant to Vilda at the World Cup, included some of the players who rebelled in her initial list.
Spain will play Nations League games against Sweden on Friday and against Switzerland on September 26th. The team planned to train in Valencia instead of Madrid before traveling to Sweden.