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Spain's govt warns women's team face punishment if they refuse to play

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Spain's govt warns women's team face punishment if they refuse to play
The players selected by Tomé who were in the 39 all published a statement on social media on Monday, including two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Striking Spain football players would be punished if they do not attend their national team camp after being called up, the Spanish government said early Tuesday.

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Victor Francos, the president of Spain's High Council for Sports (CSD), said he would have to apply the country's sports law in the absence of the selected players.

New Spain coach Montse Tomé called up 15 of the World Cup winners for upcoming Nations League games on Monday, but the majority of them are striking from the national team to seek major changes in the Spanish football federation.

Disgraced president Luis Rubiales resigned after kissing midfielder Jenni Hermoso, who was not called up by Tomé, a month ago in Sydney after Spain's World Cup triumph.

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Controversial coach Jorge Vilda was also sacked, but for 39 striking players the changes did not go far enough.

"If they don't turn up, the government would have to apply the law, which is a pity for me, but the law is the law," Francos told radio station Cadena Ser.

Spain's sports law from 2022 states that athletes must attend the call-ups of the national teams when summoned, and not doing so would be a "very serious" infraction.

The potential fines range between €3,000 and €30,000  ($3,200 to $32,100), while they could also lose their licenses to play altogether, for up to five years.

The decision on a potential punishment would be made by Spain's top sports court at the request of the CSD.

Spain play Sweden on September 22 and Switzerland on September 26 in the Nations League.

The eventual finalists of the Nations League will qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games. Francos said he was planning on calling a series of players on Tuesday morning in an attempt to resolve the issue.

"We will do what we can to solve it, but we ask them to go to the games," said Francos.

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"We want them to be Olympic champions. I will try and speak with the captains, if they tell me no, I will respect it. What we don't want (to have to do) is to sanction them."

Tome did not select Hermoso, 33, in the squad, saying it was to protect her.

"Protect me from what? And from whom?" Hermoso posted on X, formerly Twitter, early Tuesday.

She accused the Spanish federation of seeking to "intimidate and threaten" the World Cup champion players by calling them up against their will for the upcoming matches.

The players selected by Tomé who were in the 39 all published a statement on social media on Monday, including two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas.

"(We made) clear ... our firm will not to be summoned for justified reasons. These statements are still fully valid," said the Spain players in their statement.

Spanish reports said the team's training camp, due to start Tuesday, would take place in Valencia instead of Madrid in an attempt to diminish media presence.

It is unclear how many players will attend the camp -- 20 of the 23-woman squad are among the 39 on strike.

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