Sacked Spain women’s coach Jorge Vilda says he has a clear conscience and his dismissal 16 days after La Roja’s World Cup triumph was unjust.
The 42-year-old was removed from his post by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Tuesday in the wake of the Luis Rubiales scandal.
RFEF president Rubiales was suspended by FIFA after he kissed Spain player Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony in Sydney on August 20, while the Spanish government is seeking further sanction.
Hermoso said the kiss was not consensual, while Rubiales continues to insist it was.
After Rubiales refused to resign, over 80 players went on strike from the women’s side until the leadership of the RFEF was removed.
“The explanation (for the sacking) was ‘structural changes’,” Vilda told radio station Cadena Ser.
“After everything that has been achieved, giving absolutely everything … I have a clear conscience.
“I gave 100 percent and I don’t understand it, I don’t think my sacking was deserved.”
Before the World Cup 15 players refused to play for the national team because of disagreements with Vilda and the federation, although many relented and three were called up for the tournament.
After the tournament Rubiales had pledged to extend Vilda’s contract by four years and give him a significant pay hike.
“I’m feeling as good as you can after becoming world champions 16 days ago, 10 days ago having your contract renewed with a higher salary and then today being sacked, I think unjustly,” said Vilda.
The former Spain women’s coach was criticised for applauding Rubiales’ controversial speech in which he railed against “false feminism” and refused to resign.
“I will never applaud anything macho,” added Vilda. “I didn’t know where that meeting was going, we thought we were going to see a resignation.
“The president was evaluating your work and announcing your renewal — that I applauded.”
Vilda said he had not spoken to Hermoso recently but knew she was suffering after the incident.
“I’ve known Jenni for 16 years,” said Vilda.
“I know she’s having a hard time, I know her family is having a hard time, and I know she’s waiting for all this to be over.”
Vilda took over the Spanish women’s national team in 2015, after years spent coaching younger age groups within the RFEF.
Players had complained about his training methods and tactics after Spain were eliminated in Euro 2022 by England in the quarter-finals, as well as other issues around the team.
Vilda was also criticised for being excessively “controlling” by former players. Spanish reports said he demanded to check players’ shopping bags and made the squad leave their bedroom doors open during team training camps to make sure the players were still there in the evenings.
Despite the complaints, Rubiales and the federation stood by Vilda and the coach called up several younger players to fill in for the 15 missing stars in the lead-up to the World Cup.
Vilda’s former assistant Montserrat Tome has been appointed as the new coach — it is the first time a woman has led the team.
– ‘Presumption of innocence’ –
Dani Carvajal, a defender for the Spanish men’s team, did not want to comment on Vilda’s dismissal on Wednesday when asked about it in a news conference.
“Internally decisions are made that us players can’t go into,” said Carvajal.
“All I can tell you is that we will back (men’s coach Luis) de la Fuente until the end, the decisions about them are not up to us.”
Real Madrid right-back Carvajal drew criticism for comments on Spanish radio late Tuesday about the Rubiales incident.
Carvajal had said “there are people who must decide if there is a culprit or a victim” and he would not condemn Rubiales before knowing “what really happened”.
“In no moment did I say that Jenni was not the victim, I just said that the presumption of innocence (until proven otherwise) has to be maintained,” said Carvajal.
“If she’s having a tough time we have to show solidarity with her, that’s clear, like any person — I don’t think the president is having a good time either.
“I am not here to judge or label anyone.”