NEW YORK – Just when it seemed there was clarity on the biggest story out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the unwelcome kiss that Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales forced upon player Jenni Hermoso, the most predictable thing of all time happened.
Jorge Vilda, the former coach of the Spanish team, who stood by Rubiales during the backlash, was hired Thursday by dumpster-diving Morocco to coach its women’s national team. Tale as old as time: a successful coach who treats players like garbage gets as many chances to coach as he could possibly want.
“Morocco has so many good things going for it,” US Women’s Soccer Team icon Julie Foudy said. “They’re investing all this money in the women’s game. Like, why, why like piss off half of the population, which is all women who have followed this story. By doing that. Yeah. I don’t get it.”
Just, ugh, Morocco. This team was a great story in 2023 itself, not jut qualifying for the Women’s World Cup, but reaching the round of 16 by beating South Korea and Columbia. Once in the knock-out rounds, Morocco lost, 4-0, to France.
Foudy and Melissa Ortiz, a Columbian national team player, who now works as a broadcaster, reacted while on the red carpet for Thursday night’s Women’s Sports Foundation dinner at Cipriani’s on Wall Street. It was a bit jarring, celebrating the gains in ratings and funding for women’s sports, while having the most depressingly business-as-usual play out in Vilda’s hiring.
“I’m a bit disappointed,” Ortiz said. “But at the same time, I mean, that’s the world of football that we’re living in right now.”
The thing about the Spanish team, they had already taken substantive issue with Vilda’s paternalistic approach to coaching professional women. His disrespectful way of running things was why the imposed kiss on Hermoso was such a flash point.
“Why do you go back to that?” Foudy said. “Well, given you have an entire Spanish federation of players that is saying this hasn’t been good for us. This is something we’ve been fighting for years.”
Foudy wasn’t just a member of the 1999 gold winning USWNT, she is also in the ownership group at the National Women’s Soccer League team, Angel City. The NWSL has had it’s own issues with abusive coaching, and has tried to clean up in a big way.
“You get into these federations that have a culture for so many years,” Foudy said. “It’s happened with US soccer for many years and it’s really hard to clean out that culture. And it takes a lot of the players having to, to demand for change because it’s never going to come from within. So a lot of that burden falls on the players.”
This news came just days after Hermoso gave a speech in Mexico where she talked about the World Cup experience, and had some powerful things to say about the unity and support she got from being honest about her reaction to what happened.
“We were world champions because that was the only way we had left to be heard, respected and valued,” Hermoso said in Spanish, as translated in a report from ASTV. “My national team changed the way many people see women’s soccer. I am sure that millions of girls around the world have felt identified and protected by this group of brave, committed and honest players, who with every step they have taken, have always thought about the future of those girls.”
You can – and you really should — watch that speech here.
The Spanish women’s national team showed how important team unity can be. Many players, who were kept off rosters or refused to play for the national team given the conditions, have paid a real cost for their solidarity. Hermoso herself was left off a roster after she refused to pretend what happened was Ok. These are real careers and real paychecks. But, like Beyonce and Taylor Swift, standing together is important.
“I think what they did is what we need to see globally in other national teams, because a lot of this is happening, whether it’s Colombia, whether it’s Nigeria, there’s a lot of other national teams and federations go through the same thing,” Ortiz said. “And I think what they did was very inspirational. And it also, you know, I think motivated others to be more vocal.”
Original source here
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