Spain’s World Cup triumph: A win for Vilda and Rubiales, not the players

Ivana Andres of Spain lifts the FIFA Women's World Cup Trophy
Spain lifts the FIFA Women's World Cup Trophy the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Final (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The golden generation of Spanish football has secured a place in history. Thanks to their FIFA Women’s World Cup victory, Spain will be remembered forever.

They were the best team in the championship, playing great from both a technical and tactical point of view. Yet, Spain’s victory is bringing a danger to the entire world of sport.

The awareness of safeguarding in sports is just building. Coaches and officials are being banned from sport society for abuse, even if it comes out after long years. However, the triumph of Spain led by Jorge Vilda is a battle won by the old world order, joined by Luis Rubiales publicly showing his obscenity and everything that has followed. The pictures that reached us from Australia are far from what we want to watch in the world of sport.

Many would say it’s not about the sports. The sport in this situation ended after the final whistle of Tori Penso, the rest was ‘an entourage.’ Still, the entourage of sports.

With behaviour like that in such a moment, one knows the protest of 15 Spanish players, with but few of them coming back to the national team to win this World Cup, meant nothing.

We can praise the attitude of Clàudia Pina, Patri Guijarro, or Leila Ouahabi who would have been a significant addition to the Spanish team. They held to their protest and decided to watch the tournament from home. They’ve lost the biggest chance to become World Champions, because they decided not to stand alongside Vilda. They believe this coach is not the right one for the team.

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A win for Spain, not necessarily Spain’s players

Vilda got the full support from RFEF, from Rubiales, from some of the players as well. Now he can feel his victory. After all, he’s the coach who guided Spain to the trophy. He’s the one who showed his methods were opposed but appeared to be correct. Even if some say Spain won it despite him, not thanks to him.

We can praise the rising genius of Salma Paralluelo. We can celebrate Aitana Bonmatí, a well-deserved Golden Ball winner. And we can cheer for the comeback of Alexia Putellas, who hid herself from the lights, cameras, and microphones.

There was the hell and heaven of Laia Codina against Switzerland. The team’s consistency was on display in the play-off, despite a 0-4 group stage loss against Japan. We will remember the tragic story of Olga Carmona, the heroine of the final whose father died during the tournament. The pitch and the stories beyond it built the monumental picture of the team.

We love those moments. But in the end, it all comes back to Vilda and Rubiales — the scar on this moment and its, unfortunately, inseparable part. Their part in this victory sends a bad signal to the world. The protest may or may not be valid, but the message is clear: your voice doesn’t matter. We’ve kept Vilda and we’ve got what we’ve wanted.

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The effect of Spain’s triumph might influence other teams and other sports. I know, personally, a case of athletes unwilling to train with the national team coaches feeling their incompetence. The players feel they won’t develop under them.

Meanwhile, it’s not the athletes, but the coaches who have the support of the federation’s board. Not a singular case, I’m sure. The triumph of Vilda will help to keep this wall, instead of breaking it. Therefore, in the face of all that has taken away from Spain’s achievement, we must stand with the players who made history and demand their voices be heard.

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