Former Spain’s women’s team coach Jorge Vilda said on Wednesday that he didn’t expect to be fired by the country’s football federation (RFEF), adding it was “unfair” and “undeserved” weeks after winning the Women’s World Cup.
The RFEF announced the decision to sack Vilda on Tuesday, after the new board formed following the suspension of RFEF President Luis Rubiales by soccer’s world governing body FIFA over the allegedly non-consensual kiss with Jenni Hermoso during the World Cup victory celebration two weeks ago.
The RFEF later announced it had appointed Montse Tome to succeed Vilda.
“I am as well as I can be for someone who has been world champions 16 days ago, renewed his contract for five more years with a higher salary 10 days ago and then today to be unfairly dismissed,” Vilda said in an interview with Spanish radio Cadena Ser.
Considered to be a close ally, Vilda applauded Rubiales when he refused to resign on Aug. 25 but later issued statements condemning his behaviour.
The suspended RFEF president praised Vilda for the World Cup triumph in his speech and offered him a new four-year contract, increasing his annual salary to 500,000 euros ($536,000) from 160,000 euros.
“It was a brief meeting with (interim president) Pedro Rocha and the vice-president for equality. Their explanation was that of ‘structural changes’,” Vilda said about how he learned he was being sacked.
“My conscience is clear because I have given 100% every day. I said I didn’t understand and that I didn’t think my dismissal was deserved.
“I will never applaud anything related to machismo. The president was praising my work and announced my renewal, that’s what I applauded. The rest… when 150 people around you are applauding, it is very difficult to be the only one who does not…”
In a statement that gave no reason for his dismissal and did not mention Hermoso, Rubiales or the scandal, the RFEF thanked 42-year-old Vilda for his “extraordinary sporting legacy”.
“The coach has been key to the remarkable growth of women’s football and leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings,” the RFEF statement said.
Vilda had been under fire since last year after 15 players staged a mutiny calling for his resignation because of inadequate coaching methods and calling for conditions to match those of the men’s squad.
Most of the players involved were cut from the squad even as some demands were met.
Danae Boronat, a sports presenter who interviewed Spain’s leading female players for her book “Don’t Call Them Girls, Call Them Footballers”, said players accused Vilda of micromanaging, such as instructing senior players what to say in interviews.
The furore involving Rubiales has quickly spiralled into a national debate over women’s rights and sexist behaviour and the mutiny scandal was back to the headlines, with 58 top-female players announcing last week that they were quiting the national team until changes were made in the RFEF leadership.