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Vilda drops Spain 'rebels' in depleted women's squad


Las Rozas de Madrid, Spain, Sept 30, 2022 (AFP) - Spain women's national team coach Jorge Vilda named a hugely depleted squad for October's international friendlies on Friday, excluding several star names who asked not to be considered due to a bitter dispute with the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

Barcelona players Patri Guijarro, Mapi Leon, Sandra Panos and Aitana Bonmati, among others, were not included, along with injured Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas, who has made it clear she supports their stance.

Manchester United's Ona Batlle and Lucia Garcia and Manchester City's Leila Ouahabi and Laia Aleixandri were not named on the list either, along with the others who took issue with the RFEF and coaching staff.

Nor were striker Jenni Hermoso and defender Irene Paredes, who did not initially send letters to the RFEF but have also shown support for the rebelling players.

Several Real Madrid players, none of whom were involved in the protest, were named in Vilda's squad. Six players among those included are yet to make their international debuts.

"I don't wish for anybody to go through what I am going through these days," said Vilda at a press conference. "I am deeply hurt, it's an unfair situation that nobody deserves.

"I think it's a ridicule on a global scale. My solution is this list. I don't see, for now, another solution. I have to call up the players who want to be here 100 percent."

Earlier in September, 15 players sent emails to the RFEF saying they did not wish to be selected due to issues with the national team which affected their "emotional and personal state".

The RFEF said the players would not be picked for Spain games until they apologised, to which the players responded publicly, posting the same statement across their social networks.

It criticised the RFEF for releasing extracts from their private email and denied asking for Vilda to be sacked, as was insinuated.

Reports in Spain say the players are unhappy with the level of professionalism in training sessions and match preparation, among other aggravating factors.

"In no moment (did I consider resigning), it would be unfair, for what we created in the past and are in the present," continued Vilda.

"For the energy and strength that I have to continue on. We have had a lot of time working on this and what we have done is to be proud of."

The friendlies against Sweden on October 7 and the United States on October 11 are part of preparations for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts in July.

Spain, who were eliminated by England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2022, would be considered among the favourites for the tournament if at full strength.

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