Spain’s former women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda called his sacking “unfair” on Tuesday and addressed why he clapped at Luis Rubiales’ assembly as fallout from the beleaguered soccer chief’s unwanted World Cup kiss continues.
In an interview with Spanish sports radio program ”El Larguero” on Cadena SER, Vilda was asked about how he was feeling after Tuesday’s announcement.
“I am as good as one can be after being named world champion 16 days ago, then 10 days ago getting a four-year contract extension, plus the year I had left, and then after today being fired, what I believe to be, unfairly,” Vilda said.
Just hours after Vilda was sacked from his role as the team’s head coach, Spain’s soccer federation (RFEF) announced that he would be replaced by his deputy, Montse Tomé – the first woman to ever take up the position in Spain’s national team history.
Vilda said that he was informed of his sacking by interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha, among a couple of others, in a brief meeting, citing structural changes as the reasoning.
“After 17 years in women’s football, after everything we’ve accomplished … I have a clear conscience because I’ve given 100% effort every day during these 17 years, but I don’t understand the decision and I don’t think I deserved to be fired,” he said.
Vilda added that, while he did not expect to fired from his post, he has spoken with Tomé.
“Well, yes, I have congratulated her. I think she deserves it, I think she has the capacity to do the job really well,” he said.
The moves comes as part of a major shake-up in Spanish soccer ever since RFEF president Rubiales forcibly kissed forward Jennifer Hermoso at the Women’s World Cup final on August 20.
Rubiales has apologized for his actions and described the kiss as “mutual” – a claim Hermoso denied, saying she was not respected. He has been handed a 90-day suspension by FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, while disciplinary proceedings are underway.
When asked about why he was clapping after Rubiales’ speech on “fake feminism” during the federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly on August 26, Vilda said that it was a complicated situation, adding that he would never applaud anything that goes against feminism.
“Well, the first thing I want to make clear, I never have and never will applaud anything sexist,” Vilda said, explaining that he thought the reason for the assembly was that Rubiales was going to announce his resignation.
“When you’re in the front row and the president is acknowledging you, makes [your] contract extension public and is praising your work … I applauded that,” he continued.
“It’s very complicated, when around 150 people beside you stand up and applaud, to be the only one that stays sitting and not applaud, it’s really complicated. Although afterwards, you’re in shock, and you reflect. You come to the realization that this is something that I shouldn’t have applauded.”
Vilda, who said he has not spoken to Rubiales since the assembly, later condemned the president’s “inappropriate and unacceptable” actions during the World Cup final.
The 42-year-old also said on Tuesday that he didn’t believe a statement released last month – which was signed by over 80 people, including members of the Women’s World Cup-winning squad – calling for leadership change in Spanish soccer included him.
“I don’t feel it alluded to me because I don’t feel like I’m a director – because I am not,” said Vilda.
“I am a coach. I am a coach, so when you are talking about leadership, I do not feel it alluded to me. Additionally, it has never been said publicly, since the beginning of this season, that they ask for my dismissal or that they ask for my head.
“In fact, one of the captains came out of that and said directly that they were not asking for the dismissal of Jorge Vilda, that they were asking for other things.”
CNN’s George Ramsay, Ben Morse and Patrick Sung contributed to reporting.