‘It is time to fight’: Spain’s World Cup players continue strike action

In their statement on Friday, the players make clear that “the events that unfortunately the whole world were able to see are not a one-off and go beyond sporting matters.”

“We must have zero tolerance for these acts – for our colleague, for us and for all women,” they wrote in Spanish.


They called for a complete restructuring of the women’s football organisation, along with changes at the federation’s executive level and changes to the communications and ethics units.

“We would like to end this statement by saying that the players of the Spanish national team are professional players, and what fills us most with pride is to wear the shirt of our national team and to take our country to the highest levels,” the players wrote.

“For this reason, we believe that it is time to fight to show that these situations and practices have no place in our football or in our society, that the current structure needs to change and we do this so that the next generation can have much more equality football and at a level that we all deserve.”

Athenea del Castillo and Claudia Zornoza, both Real Madrid players, were the only two women from the World Cup team not to sign the statement.

Zornoza said on X, formerly Twitter, that she was retiring from international football at the age of 32, but indicated her support regardless.

“The moment has arrived for me to say goodbye and focus on my objectives with Real Madrid,” the midfielder said. “I desire with all my strength that for once and for all, all the areas of the national team change so they can be at the same level as our achievements.”

Last year, 15 players similarly rebelled, asking for more a more professional approach from Vilda. The federation – led by Rubiales – firmly backed Vilda, and only three of those players relented and were eventually included in the World Cup squad.

With Rubiales – Vilda’s biggest supporter – out of the way, the federation has sided more fully with the players during this second rebellion. In Vilda’s place, the federation hired Tome, his former assistant, as the first female coach of Spain’s women’s team.

Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner, had said on Wednesday that the players wanted sweeping reform.

“We are asking for changes so no woman, inside or outside of soccer, should ever have to experience again situations of disparagement, disrespect, or abuse,” she said. “We need consensus, courage and leadership from the institutions, please. This is why we will not stop here.”


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