Historic Moment as Montse Tome Becomes Spain’s First Female Head Coach Amid Controversy

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In a noteworthy turn of events, Jorge Vilda, the revered head coach responsible for Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory, has been let go in the wake of the continuing controversy surrounding Luis Rubiales. The reins of the team have been transferred to Montse Tome, marking a historical moment as the first female to take on the role.

Despite Spain’s win, the triumph was eclipsed by an incident involving Rubiales, president of Spain’s football federation, and forward player Jenni Hermoso. Rubiales was accused by Hermoso of nonconsensual kissing, an incident which caused ripples outrightly in the football community.

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Vilda’s departure from his role was not without further effects. A significant number of Vilda’s coaching team opted to resign, and an overwhelming 81 players chose to abstain from representing Spain in the fallout from the scandal.

Rubiales, despite resounding call for his resignation, remains steadfast in his refusal to step down, however, being temporarily suspended by FIFA, the world governing entity of football.

Spain’s federation, RFEF, did not clarify the grounds for Vilda’s dismissal. Vilda was extolled as “a promoter of the values of respect and sportsmanship in football”. Speculations, however, suggest the RFEF’s examination of the possibility of sacking Vilda since last week might have influenced the decision. Vilda is known to be a close associate of Rubiales.

The transition has been framed by the RFEF as “one of the first renewal measures” initiated by Pedro Rocha, the interim president while Rubiales is suspended.

Vilda, although initially applauding Rubiales, has recently expressed criticism of his behavior. RFEF’s appreciation of Vilda’s contributions in cultivating women’s football in Spain was clearly expressed, a sentiment echoed in the acknowledgment of his role in the growth of Spain’s national women’s teams and his recent World Cup achievements.

Montse Tome has been a part of the coaching team under Vilda. The former midfielder and a seasoned player with four caps for Spain is set to shepherd the team towards UEFA Women’s Nations League qualifications upcoming this month.

Vilda weathered a ‘player revolt’ back in September 2022, subsequently known as ‘Las 15’. Tensions simmered amidst dissatisfaction with training methods and game preparation, but Vilda, who held steadfast support from Rubiales, remained at his post. Out of the 15 revolting players, only three reinstated their participation to help clinch the World Cup win against England.

Vilda’s departure leaves behind an indelible mark on Spanish women’s football. He leaves a legacy of 108 matches, with 75 wins, inclusive of reaching the European Championship quarterfinals in 2017 and 2022. Spain holds the second ranking in FIFA’s women’s world rankings.

RFEF gave a somber tribute to Vilda, stating, “The RFEF would like to express its gratitude to Jorge Vilda for the services provided, for his professionalism and dedication during all these years, wishing him the best successes in the future.”

Unfortunately, it was Rubiales’ actions that cast a pall over the football world. The RFEF forwarded its ‘sincere apologies’ for the ‘totally unacceptable behavior’ that caused the public outrage. Pedro Rocha, ensuring a commitment to prevent such incidents, promised to refocus the spotlight on the women’s team, whose triumph had been tragically marred by the controversy.

Meanwhile, Spain’s national sports tribunal responded by opening a misconduct case against Rubiales. In the aftermath, male players from Spain stood in solidarity with their female counterparts, the latter’s success tarnished by Rubiales’ action.

Despite Rubiales’ insistence on the consensuality of the kiss, the RFEF has acknowledged legal action against Hermoso’s claims. Rocha expressed sincere regret and made it clear that Rubiales’ conduct bore no reflection on the RFEF as a whole.

In closing, he reiterated his admiration for the women’s team, citing their remarkable success and the potential for inspiring future triumphs in Spanish football, promising the deserved recognition will be presented in due time.