Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning head coach Jorge Vilda has criticised suspended football federation president Luis Rubiales, calling the moment he kissed squad member Jennifer Hermoso “inappropriate and unacceptable”.
Vilda’s entire coaching staff have resigned in protests against Rubiales , but Vilda himself has not stepped down despite his latest comments.
The coach was spotted applauding at the Spanish federation’s extraordinary general assembly on Friday, when Rubiales gave an emphatic speech in which he repeatedly insisted he would not resign and claimed to be the victim of “social assassination”.
The two had been allies after Rubiales stood by Vilda in September 2022 when 15 national-team players pulled out of the squad, saying that the manager’s management was affecting their emotional state and health.
Of those 15, only three opted to return to the Spain squad which went on to beat England in the final in Sydney.
Vilda released a statement on Saturday night, saying: “I regret deeply that the victory of Spanish women’s football has been harmed by the inappropriate behaviour that our until now top leader, Luis Rubiales, has carried out and that he himself has recognised.
“There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular.
“I condemn without doubt any macho attitude, [which should be] far from an advanced and developed society.
“A clearly undesirable climate has been generated, far from what should have been a great celebration of Spanish sport and women’s sport.
“I reiterate my unwavering commitment to promoting a sport that is a model of equality and respect in our society.”
Fifa has provisionally suspended 46-year-old Rubiales, a former La Liga player for Levante, from any football-related activities for an initial 90 days.
Spain’s government has also started legal proceedings as they aim to suspend him.
Vilda is now the only coach from the women’s national team who remains in place, with assistant managers Montse Tome, Javier Lerga and Eugenio Gonzalo Martin, physio Blanca Romero Moraleda and goalkeeping coach Carlos Sanchez all having quit their posts earlier on Saturday.
Some 81 Spain players, including all 23 World Cup winners, said they would not play for the team again while Rubiales was in charge.
Rubiales had claimed the kiss with Pachuca forward Hermoso, 33, was consensual, something she strongly denied in a statement.
The RFEF then launched a remarkable statement on Friday night threatening legal action against Hermoso for her “lies”.
Like Vilda, the men’s national team boss, Luis de la Fuente, also applauded Rubiales’ speech on Friday before issuing a statement criticising him.