Spanish women’s football team coach Jorge Vilda sacked in wake of Rubiales kiss controversy

Jorge Vilda’s leadership was called into question after 15 Spanish players refused to play for him

The head coach of the Spanish women’s football team has been sacked in the wake of the Rubiales kiss furore.

Jorge Vilda led Spain to World Cup victory last month when his side beat England 1-0 in the final.

But he faced criticism after he applauded a speech by Luis Rubiales when the Spanish football federation president refused to resign for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips in the aftermath of the final.

Addressing Vilda directly on Friday, Mr Rubiales called him the best coach in women’s football and offered him a new four-year contract worth €500,000 (£429,000) a year.

By Saturday, Vilda had changed his tune, releasing a statement criticising Mr Rubiales – but he stopped short of calling for his resignation or dismissal.

The Spanish football federation said its acting president Pedro Rocha has “decided to dispense with the services of Jorge Vilda as sports director and women’s national coach, a position, the latter, which he accepted in 2015”.

Vilda is lifted up by the Spanish women’s team after their World Cup win

Even before the World Cup final, Vilda’s leadership was called into question after 15 Spanish players refused to play for him.

They claimed that they had concerns about their health and emotional state. Only three of those players returned to the fold for the World Cup campaign.

Commenting on Vilda’s sacking, Sky News’ sports correspondent Rob Harris said: “The day before the final against England, he was asked about these very notable welfare concerns and his response was merely ‘next question please’.

“We have really been awaiting this decision ever since he was seen so closely aligned to Rubiales.”

‘Enormous damage done’

Earlier on Tuesday, the Spanish Football Federation apologised for the “enormous damage done” in the wake of the kiss, saying Mr Rubiales’ actions do not reflect the federation and that they are “embarrassed” by his actions.

Jennifer Hermoso is kissed by Luis Rubiales

In a statement, the federation said changes would be made at the top of the organisation.

“We are sorry that this incident has disrupted what should have been an ongoing celebration of football both for our national team and that of England’s Lionesses, who were a truly remarkable rival in a thrilling final,” it added.

Mr Rubiales was also handed a provisional suspension from FIFA for 90 days last week, amid his refusal to step down, despite widespread mounting pressure upon him to do so from within Spanish football and the government.

In the wake of calls for his resignation, the 46-year-old issued a fresh defence in which he admitted he had made “some obvious mistakes” which he sincerely regrets, but at no time was there any aggression or discomfort when the kiss occurred.

“I repeat: with the consent of both parties, both in the affectionate hugs, as well as in the peak and subsequent farewell full of affectionate mutual gestures, that occurred on the medals delivery stage,” he said.