England head coach Sarina Wiegman said the Spanish women’s team “deserves to be listened to” as she dedicated her UEFA women’s coach of the year award to the squad.
Spain beat England 1-0 in the World Cup final earlier this month, but their celebrations were overshadowed by the actions of Spanish FA (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales.
As the team went up to collect their winners’ medals, Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips, which the Spain forward later said she did not consent to.
Rubiales, who said last week he would not resign over the incident, was suspended by FIFA at the weekend while regional leaders from the RFEF have requested Rubiales stands down.
Luis Rubiales: The man at the centre of a scandal watched by the world
Speaking at the draw for the men’s Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday, Wiegman addressed the situation.
“Accepting this trophy feels a little bit different,” she said. “We all know the issues with the Spanish football team. It really hurts me as a coach, as a mother of two daughters, as a wife and as a human being.
“It also showed me that there is a long way to go in women’s football and in society. I’d like to dedicate this award to the Spanish team. A team that played such great football that everyone enjoyed. This team deserves to be celebrated and listened to.”
Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati won the player of the year award and offered her support to team-mate Hermoso in her acceptance speech. Bonmati was among 81 Spanish players who signed a letter denouncing Rubiales’ actions and saying they would refuse call-ups to the national team until the leadership of the RFEF was changed.
“I want to thank Sarina’s words,” she said. “We are not going through a great moment in Spanish football, despite coming from winning the World Cup. There’s not many people talking about it because of some episodes that should have never happened.
“I would like to mention them a bit. I think that we, as a society, can’t allow power abuse to take place in our working place, as well as the disrespectful gestures we’ve seen. So I’d like, for my teammate Jenni but also all the women who are going through the same: we are with you. I hope we keep improving as a society.”
Wiegman won the coach of the year award ahead of Jorge Vilda, the coach of Spain’s women’s team, who criticised the “improper behaviour” of Rubiales but said he would not resign. Eleven members of the team’s coaching staff resigned following the actions of Rubiales.
(Photo: NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)