Jorge Vilda, Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning head coach, has been sacked amid the ongoing Luis Rubiales scandal.
Spain’s win was overshadowed by the country’s football federation president Rubiales kissing forward Jenni Hermoso, which she said was not consensual.
Most of Vilda’s coaching staff resigned and 81 players refused to play for Spain in the aftermath.
Rubiales has refused to resign but has been provisionally suspended by Fifa, football’s world governing body.
In a statement, Spanish federation the RFEF did not give a specific reason for Vilda’s dismissal, saying he had been “a promoter of the values of respect and sportsmanship in football”.
However, the RFEF has been exploring whether it could sack 42-year-old Vilda – considered a close ally of Rubiales – since last week.
He was spotted applauding Rubiales at the RFEF’s extraordinary general assembly earlier in August – when Rubiales repeatedly insisted he would not resign and said he would offer Vilda a new deal – though he has since criticised his behaviour.
“The RFEF appreciates [Vilda’s] work at the head of the national team and in his functions as the head of sports for the women’s teams, as well as the successes achieved during his time crowned with the recent achievement of the World Cup,” said the RFEF.
“We value his impeccable personal and sporting conduct, being a key piece in the notable growth of women’s football in Spain.”
Vilda, who had been in charge of the national team since 2015, survived a player ‘revolt’ in September 2022, when the RFEF released a statement revealing 15 players had submitted identical emails saying they would not play for Vilda unless “significant” concerns over their “emotional state” and “health” were addressed.
‘Las 15’ – as the players became known – denied claims they had asked for Vilda, who has always maintained the support of Rubiales, to be sacked, but tension followed amid reports of concerns over training methods and inadequate game preparation.
Of those 15, just three ended their exile and were back in the squad as Spain beat England in the World Cup final in Sydney last month.
Vilda oversaw 108 matches as Spain coach, winning 75, and reached the European Championship quarter-finals in 2017 and 2022.
The World Cup winners are currently second in the Fifa women’s world rankings.
The RFEF’s statement added: “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.
“The RFEF is left with an extraordinary sporting legacy thanks to the implementation of a recognised game model and a methodology that has been an engine of growth for all the women’s categories of the national team.”
RFEF offers ‘sincere apologies’ for Rubiales’ behaviour
Earlier on Tuesday, Pedro Rocha, the RFEF’s acting president, apologised to the “whole of the football world” for the “totally unacceptable behaviour” of Rubiales.
Rocha said he plans to “give back the spotlight” to the women’s team after their World Cup victory was overshadowed.
A lengthy statement said: “The Royal Spanish Football Federation, through its president, Mr. Pedro Rocha, considers it is essential to present the most sincere apologies to the football institutions, the players, especially the players of the Spanish National Football Team and the English National Football Team, stakeholders involved in football and the fans around the world for the totally unacceptable behaviour of its highest institutional representative during the final of the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023 and in the moments that followed.
“The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous.
“The RFEF wants to transmit to the whole of society and to the whole of the football world its utmost regret for what happened that has tarnished our team, our football and our society.
“We must apologise most sincerely and make a firm and absolute commitment that events like these can never happen again.”
Spain’s national sports tribunal (TAD) has opened a misconduct case against Rubiales.
On Monday, Spain’s men’s players condemned his “unacceptable behaviour”, expressing their “regret and solidarity with the players whose success has been tarnished”.
After insisting he would not resign in a speech days after the World Cup final, Rubiales said the kiss with Hermoso was consensual, while the RFEF said it would take legal action over her “lies”.
Rocha said he “regretted” the incident had “negatively impacted what should have been a continuous celebration of football”.
“The performance of Mr. Rubiales both at that moment and in the hours that followed are not acceptable under any circumstances and for this reason the RFEF immediately withdrew from its website all those inappropriate and meaningless communications that did not value what was achieved by the national team and did not take into account the statements by the player about these events.
“To be clear, this position was that of Mr. Rubiales, not that of the RFEF. We feel especially sorry and ashamed for the pain and additional distress this has caused.”
Rocha added: “I want to congratulate our team once again for its historic triumph, recognising the impact and legacy that this victory will have on the future of Spanish football. We are convinced that their spirit has inspired millions of people of all ages, and we cannot be prouder of the way they have behaved, both inside and off the field of play.
“In due time, I intend to give them back the spotlight and celebrate their achievements as they deserve.”