#VildaOUT: a trending hashtag about Vilda explained

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 - England v Spain - Brighton Hove Community Stadium - Quarter Final. Photo by James Whitehead

The Spanish media website El Confidencial published an article on August 29th alleging that the captains of the Spanish National Team had contacted RFEF President Luis Rubiales to request the dismissal of the national team coach, Jorge Vilda. Since then, there have been a series of information about the Spanish National Team and Vilda’s discharge. But why do the players and supporters want Vilda dismissed, who has been in charge of the squad for seven years, fired? The solution is both simple and complex.

Spanish National Team – Pre Jorge Vilda

Ignacio Quereda managed the Spanish National Team for 27 years prior to the 2015 Women’s World Cup. During his 27-year reign, Spain qualified for two Euros and one Women’s World Cup. However, Quereda’s 27-year dominance came at a cost that many on the outside were unaware of. In the 2021 documentary Romper El Silencio, former Spanish players Vicky Losada, Vero Boquete, and Natalia Pablos bravely spoke out about Ignacio Quereda’s decades of abusive treatment. Following their early elimination from the 2015 World Cup, the Spanish squad, led by veterans, demanded that Quereda resigns as coach of the National Team. Following Quereda’s expulsion, RFEF appointed Jorge Vilda as head coach.

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Spanish National Team – The Jorge Vilda Era

Jorge Vilda formerly coached the Spanish National Team’s youth squads. Angel Vilda, Jorge’s father and the current head of the Spanish Federation’s women’s department, has also coached the underaged women’s teams. Jorge Vilda has had some success with the younger women’s teams, so there was some hope that this might transition to the senior squad.

While Quereda was sacked, the veterans who led their squad suffered greatly. Under Jorge Vilda’s supervision, the Spanish team’s veterans were eased out. Jorge Vilda took over as coach of a team that lacked important seasoned players and lacked direction and confidence. As a result, Spain bowed from the 2017 Euros in the quarterfinals.

Since the Euros in 2017, Spanish football has grown significantly at the club level; unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the national team. Vilda’s success with the youth teams did not carry over to the senior national squad. One of the significant factors is the absence of seasoned players. Even so, the team would be more diverse. Spain did well in the 2020 She Believes Cup with a mixed lineup of young and veteran players. He has gradually, but undeniably, grown complacent and lazy.

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Over the years, Jorge Vilda has grown to rely heavily on the players from the Catalan club, FC Barcelona. Vilda reckons it is easier to throw the Barcelona players on the pitch and call it a day. The club players, having played with each other for many years, have excellent communication skills on the field that do not require much instruction from Vilda. Another critical problem with Jorge is his reluctance to call up players. Vilda constantly brings up the same players, despite injury concerns.

With its skill pool, Spain is in a golden period. The country is home to numerous outstanding talents, some well-known and some not so much. The lack of choices isn’t the issue, but rather Jorge Vilda’s insistence is. In the seven years that Vilda has been head coach, he does not have much to plead his case to continue as head coach.

Why do the players want Jorge Vilda dismissed?

According to Relevo and El Confidencial, the players met with the coach in person to ask him to resign as head coach. The players informed the coach that they did not trust him to lead the national team to victory. While the players have now transmitted this information, this has been an issue for many months, even before the Euros. The players think that game time is not managed proactively and that there is an apparent separation between starters and benched players, which has led to the demotivation of several players.

The players also think there is a low degree of demand for training and that they can practise more effectively with their clubs. There have also been concerns about faulty injury management and minute overloads (particularly during friendlies), which occasionally increase discomfort or impede adequate recovery. El Pais Deporte also reported that the players were unsure about the tactical choices. Also, mentioning that the European Championship was awful in general, with disagreements over their criteria for making decisions on starting XIs. The players also expressed dissatisfaction with their ability to manage media appearances.

While the players have requested Vilda to resign, he is determined to finish his contract in 2024, with the support of the Spanish Federation, the RFEF. President Luis Rubiales does not want to go on without the coach and wants him to stay at least until the World Cup in 2023. The RFEF extended Vilda’s contract till 2024, before the European Championship in England. According to Relevo, the Spanish Federation is angry with the National Team players for having the temerity to demand the firing of a coach. The RFEF firmly supports Vilda and has stated that if he wishes, he will remain till the World Cup “no matter what.” The federation is likewise surprised by the expectations of the players.

Why do the fans want the dismissal of Jorge Vilda?

One of the significant concerns among national team fans is that Rubiales is creating a new Quereda with Jorge Vilda. And their worries are justified. Every argument advanced by the players in support of Vilda’s dismissal has been made by supporters for many years. According to Relevo, Vilda held lengthy discussions with players and staff and one-on-one talks with the players. During which he indicated that while he listens to the players logically, he would remain in his position. He also stated that he is confident in his ability to do so. According to many reports, the players are overwhelmed by the pressure.

Fans believe that if Vilda remains a coach, the present veterans will fade out of the National Team as they did with Losada and Boquete. Fans feel Vilda is incompetent to lead the squad, citing management’s failure to support the team. Another significant factor is Vilda’s lack of ambition. In interviews, the coach appears pleased with his team’s performance, while the players express a desire to improve. The supporters have had enough. They are as fatigued as the players watching Jorge Vilda. And also, the federation closing its eyes and failing to capitalise on the present generation of players’ full potential.

Some supporters even stated that the players’ lack of trust in the coach is visible on the field. In numerous encounters, notably the pre-Euros friendly against Australia, players prefer to huddle up amongst themselves and strategise. Simultaneously, the opponent is generally observed discussing strategy with their coach.

The fans have taken it upon themselves to trend the hashtag #VildaOUT. Showing their loud and clear support for the players.

What is the current situation?

The squad is presently training at Las Rozas, Madrid, for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. According to many reports, the current situation is hostile. While the players have banded together to effect change, Vilda has refused to relinquish his position. The Spanish Federation RFEF has pledged its full support to Vilda. The press conference for the day was canceled. And the first 20 minutes of training, as witnessed by the media, were frigid and solemn. Vilda was spotted with his assistants.

It remains to be seen what happens with the Spanish National Team in the end. Will Vilda continue as the head coach and the RFEF win, or will the fight come to its fruitful end?

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