Spain’s women’s soccer coach was fired on Tuesday just two weeks after leading his team to the World Cup title, the latest fallout from an unwanted celebratory kiss moments after the match.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation also issued a sweeping apology for federation president Luis Rubiales’ kiss on the mouth of player Jenni Hermoso during the post-match medal ceremony.
Spain defeated England, 1-0, on Aug. 20, as La Roja lifted the nation’s first women’s World Cup trophy.
The historic victory touched off wild celebrations throughout Spain, but that joy shifted to a national debate about the country’s deep-rooted patriarchal norms.
Coach Jorge Vilda had initially supported Rubiales and had opposed efforts to have the federation head replaced. He eventually became more critical of Rubiales, saying the kiss tarnished “a well-deserved victory for our players and our country.”
The federation, in a lengthy statement, acknowledged the “damage caused” by Rubiales’ kiss to “Spanish society.”
“Those actions do not reflect at all the values of the whole Spanish society, its institutions, its representatives, its athletes and the leaders of Spanish sport,” according to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
“Spanish society is an example of tolerance and civility, in all social and political spheres and has been an example of behavior and sporting decorum, as it has demonstrated for decades in all sporting events in which it has participated.”
The federation continued: “That nobility and international prestige of our society and our sport have been tarnished in recent days by the actions of Mr. Luis Rubiales. The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and to the values of football and sport as a whole has been enormous.”
Even though the coach is now critical of Rubiales, the federation, under the guidance of acting president Pedro Rocha, has decided to part ways with the World Cup-winning field boss.
The federation did not mention Rubiales or the kiss in its announcement of Vilda’s termination.
“The federation wants to express its gratitude to Jorge Vilda for the services provided, for his professionalism and his dedication during all these years, wishing him success for the future,” according to a federation statement.
“He leaves the federation with an extraordinary sporting legacy thanks to the implementation of a recognized game model and a methodology that has been an engine of growth for all the women’s categories of the national team.”
Tuesday’s statement did not name a successor.
Rubiales has refused to step down from his post in the wake of withering, worldwide criticism. He’s currently serving a 90-day suspension handed down by FIFA, the sport’s world governing body.