Jenni Hermoso has not been included in Spain’s first squad since lifting the Women’s World Cup but 15 of her title-winning team-mates have been called up despite announcing a boycott last month.
A group of 81 players, including all 23 members of the World Cup squad, indicated three weeks ago that they would not play for Spain again while Luis Rubiales remained Spanish football federation (RFEF) president as a result of his behaviour at the final.
Rubiales caused a huge controversy after kissing midfielder Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony following the team’s 1-0 victory over England. Hermoso insists she did not consent to the kiss.
“We stand with Jenni,” new head coach Montse Tome told a press conference. “We believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni.
“It’s the start of a new phase, the clock is ticking. There is nothing behind us and we really want to connect with these players.”
Amid increasing pressure, Rubiales finally resigned from his post last week but 39 players, including 21 of Spain’s World Cup winners, released a statement on Friday saying that was not enough to trigger their return to national-team duty.
The players said they were not yet “in a safe place” to return and that the problems at the RFEF ran far deeper than Rubiales.
Rubiales has been banned from going within 200 metres of Hermoso as the national court in Madrid considered a complaint of sexual assault – something the 46-year-old denies.
However, new Spain coach Tome – who had been due to name her squad on Friday after replacing the sacked Jorge Vilda – has now included 15 of the world champions in her 23-player squad for the upcoming Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland.
It is not clear whether those players will accept their call-ups.
Tome had been due to name her squad on Friday but the RFEF said the announcement had been “delayed to a new time to be confirmed”.
Barcelona’s Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro – who were not included in Spain’s World Cup squad after signing a letter protesting against Vilda – have been included.