Spanish soccer players will be punished if they refuse to play for the women’s national team when called up, Spain’s government reportedly said on Tuesday, as players criticize the tactics used to pressure the athletes boycotting the women’s team since former federation president Luis Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup final a month ago.
Victor Francos, Spain’s secretary of state for sport and head of the country’s sport’s council, told radio station Cadena Ser the government would sanction players who did not turn up when summoned to the national team, according to AFP.
Spanish law requires athletes to appear if called up to the national squad and Francos said the “government would have to apply the law.”
The minister said failing to appear when called is “very serious” and while it would be a “pity” to sanction players he said “the law is the law."
Players refusing to appear when called face a fine between $3,200 to $32,000 and a possible ban on playing between two to five years.
Punishments are handed down by Spain’s top sports court on request of the sport’s council.
Spain’s new women’s national coach Montse Tome could have just three players available to her for upcoming matches against Sweden and Switzerland after she named a squad where the majority of players have openly stated their intention to not play. The showdown is the latest development in ongoing efforts to change Spanish football in the aftermath of an unwanted kiss during victory celebrations following the women’s team’s victory at the Women’s World Cup final last month. The fallout led to widespread boycotts of the national team, the eventual resignation of Rubiales—who denies sexually assaulting Hermoso and has been banned from going within 200 meters of the footballer—and the firing of head coach Jorge Vilda. On Friday, 39 players, including 21 of 23 members of Spain’s champion squad, said their boycott would continue despite Rubiales’ resignation, deeming changes at the federation insufficient “for the players to feel in a safe place.”
Hermoso was one of eight players from Spain’s World Cup-winning squad Tome didn’t call up, a group that included three injured players and one who has retired. Tome said the decision not to call on Hermoso was made for her own protection, which the player slammed in a post on X. “Protect me from what? And from whom?,” Hermoso asked, adding that Spanish players are “certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions.” Despite claims of progress, Hermoso said it is clear “nothing has changed.”