New Spain soccer coach names roster made up largely of players who've threatened boycott

New Spain soccer coach Montse Tomé announced a roster for this week’s Nations League’s games made up almost entirely of players who said only a few days ago they will not play for the national team until the federation makes significant changes.

Tomé said Monday she has spoken to the players and expects they will be in camp Tuesday. The World Cup champions play top-ranked Sweden on Friday in a game that could be decisive in Spain’s hopes of securing a first-ever spot at the Olympics.

"I trust the players are professionals," Tomé said. "I know they will be here with us tomorrow."

But Tomé’s roster choice could backfire. There is widespread sympathy for the players, whose first World Cup title has been overshadowed by the boorish behavior of former federation president Luis Rubiales, who groped and kissed Jenni Hermoso without her consent on the victory stand.

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Rubiales was insistent he did nothing wrong, and was applauded by former coach Jorge Vilda and many federation members after insisting he would not resign. That was considered by many to be indicative of the lack of respect the federation has shown its women’s players, and 21 of the 23 World Cup players said Friday they would boycott the national team until current Spain president Pedro Rocha steps down and the women’s program and federation marketing and communications department are reorganized.

"The changes that have been done until now, are not enough for the players to feel they are at a place that is safe where they can perform to their best ability, and that respects and encourages women’s (soccer)," the players said in a statement Friday.

Spain's new women's national team coach Montse Tome, holds a jersey during her official presentation at the Spanish soccer federation headquarters.
Spain's new women's national team coach Montse Tome, holds a jersey during her official presentation at the Spanish soccer federation headquarters.

But Tomé called them up regardless. Her roster includes 15 members of the World Cup squad – though Hermoso, Spain's all-time leading scorer, was not among them.

"The first thing to say is that we are with Jenni in everything," Tomé said. "We have believed that the best way to protect her in this call is like this."

Tomé also called up Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro, two of the more vocal members of “the 15,” players who last September sent identical emails to the federation complaining about Vilda’s heavy handedness and training methods. The federation backed Vilda fully, saying the players would need to apologize before they could play for the national team again.

Leon and Guijarro refused, with Leon saying she wanted to play at the World Cup but "my values come first."

In a statement before Tomé announced the roster, the federation said it was committed to change.

"We guarantee a safe environment for the players and advocate for a climate of mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women's football continues to progress much stronger," the federation said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Spain soccer coach ignores players' boycott threat with roster