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Spanish federation urges Women's World Cup winners to return

AFP
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Spanish federation urges Women's World Cup winners to return
Spanish federation urges Women's World Cup winners to return. Photo: Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP

The Spanish football federation urged 39 striking players to return to the women's national team on Monday, ahead of new coach Montse Tomé's first squad announcement.

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Spain won the Women's World Cup in August but the four weeks since have been filled with controversy and turmoil after former president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso.

The entire World Cup squad and dozens more players went on strike in protest after Rubiales said he would not leave his post.

The 46-year-old eventually resigned after unprecedented criticism and faces a legal battle over sexual assault and coercion after his kiss, while controversial coach Jorge Vilda was sacked in the wake of the incident.

Despite the changes, 39 players, including the vast majority of the World Cup winners, said they would not come back until further conditions were met, including reshaping certain departments within the Spanish federation (RFEF).

READ ALSO: Spain women's World Cup players demand more heads roll as Rubiales in court 

Spanish reports Monday said none of the 39 players still striking would make themselves available for the squad to face Sweden and Switzerland in the Nations League, which Tomé will name at 16:30 local time.

"Players are urged to join this change led by the federation, understanding that the changes that must continue have to be solid and fair," said the RFEF, currently led by interim president Pedro Rocha.

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The statement appears a last-ditch attempt to lure the players, including two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas, back.

The RFEF said "difficult decisions" had been made in recent days and the process would continue, as the federation itself "is aware of the need to make structural changes".

READ ALSO: Spain's World Cup-winning women reject squad call-ups

"We guarantee a safe environment for the players and we are committed to a climate of mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women's football continues to progress much more strongly," added the RFEF.

"We must begin to show off the star (on the shirt, to signify the World Cup win) that the internationals have achieved with so much effort."

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