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Jorge Vilda sacked by Spain Women: Controversial coach leaves post amid RFEF president Luis Rubiales fallout

Spain won Women's World Cup final against England; 15 Spain players previously signed a letter calling for Jorge Vilda's removal, while he was seen applauding Luis Rubiales during the Spanish FA president's controversial speech; Montse Tome named as Vilda's immediate successor

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Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol explains why Jorge Vilda, Spain's World Cup-winning coach, has been dismissed by the Spanish Football Federation

Women's World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda has been sacked by the Spanish FA amid the kiss row surrounding its president Luis Rubiales.

Vilda led Spain to a 1-0 win over England as they won their first Women's World Cup on August 20, only 16 days before his dismissal, but his connections with the suspended Rubiales have since come back to haunt him.

Montse Tome has been named as Vilda's immediate successor by the RFEF, becoming the first woman to be appointed to Spain's head coach role.

Tome had been acting as Vilda's assistant since 2018 and has since "established herself as a key player in the national team's growth", the RFEF said.

Assistant Montse Tome has been named as Jorge Vilda's immediate successor by the RFEF
Image: Assistant Montse Tome has been named as Jorge Vilda's immediate successor by the RFEF

Stand-in Spanish FA president Pedro Rocha promised a restructure of the RFEF in an open letter on Tuesday, in which the governing body apologised for the "enormous damage" caused by Rubiales' actions, before later releasing a statement confirming Vilda's removal.

"The RFEF, in one of the first renewal measures announced by president Pedro Rocha, has decided to dispense with the services of Jorge Vilda as sports director and women's national coach," it read.

"We value his impeccable personal and sporting conduct, being a key piece in the notable growth of women's football in Spain. During his extensive period, Vilda has been a promoter of the values ​​of respect and sportsmanship in football."

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All 11 of Vilda's backroom colleagues had already resigned in protest over the ongoing crisis surrounding Rubiales, who was pictured kissing Spain forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the on-field celebrations in Sydney.

Vilda himself came under fire for applauding Rubiales' extraordinary comments during a subsequent press conference, in which the RFEF president repeatedly refused to resign and hit out at "fake feminists".

The speech led to all 23 of Spain's World Cup squad ruling themselves out of selection while the president remained in post.

Vilda brought three of the mutineers back into the squad
Image: Jorge Vilda led Spain to their first Women's World Cup on August 20 but has now been sacked

During the speech, Rubiales also name-checked Vilda as the best coach in women's football and assured him of a new €500,000-a-year, four-year contract.

Vilda eventually released a statement criticising Rubiales but stopped short of calling for his resignation or dismissal.

The 42-year-old has long cut a controversial figure in his role as Spain head coach. Last September, 15 players wrote to the RFEF threatening to boycott the team if Vilda was not sacked, with sources claiming their unhappiness centred around the management of injuries, the atmosphere in the locker room, his team selection and training sessions.

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Speaking ahead of his removal, LaLiga TV's Semra Hunter said she was 'not surprised' the Spanish FA were considering the dismissal of Spain head coach Jorge Vilda

Rubiales stood by Vilda at that point and threatened mutinous players with bans up to a possible five years though three of the co-signatories, Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey were later included in his World Cup squad.

The tide began to turn against him during a meeting of regional FA leaders on August 28 with interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha, acting after Rubiales' suspension by FIFA, during which calls were made for Vilda to be removed as part of a restructure at the top of the federation.

Analysis: Untenable position for Vilda and Spanish national side

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"We were expecting this to happen last Thursday. Pedro Rocha, the president of the RFEF went to the south of France for the Champions League draw. He wanted to deal with this as quickly as possible because Spain's women's team has a Nations League game coming up.

"You had the totally ridiculous and untenable situation where the whole squad and even more players, something like 83 players, had signed a letter saying they were not going to play for Jorge Vilda or Luis Rubiales.

"We also had his whole backroom team resign en masse. His position was totally untenable, without any players, or any backroom staff. How could he carry on being head coach of the world champions?

"I think the final thing that did it for him was those pictures of Luis Rubiales giving the speech at the extraordinary assembly, Vilda was filmed applauding what he had to say. I think when people saw that, a lot of the thought that was the end for him.

"He tried to backtrack a few days later, releasing a statement saying he didn't agree with what Rubiales had done, but even then he stopped short of demanding he leave. But it's no surprise he's now lost his job.

"I know from the outside looking in, people might think it's extraordinary that someone who's just won the World Cup has lost his job, but there's a lot more going on in the background, and a lot of players in the Spain team were unhappy with his management.

"Quite a lot wrote an open letter last year saying they weren't going to play for him any more, but Rubiales backed him instead of them. Now the head coach has lost his job, and we know Rubiales as well is finished."

'There are questions as to how players will respond to Tome's appointment'

Spanish football expert Semra Hunter:

"It's great that, for the first time, a woman is holding this position, but if you listen to a lot of the people who are in the know, players themselves who know Montse Tome, they will tell you they have very serious doubts and they are not quite sure she is the right person for the job.

"She doesn't have experience level, she's never been a first team head coach and she has been the assistant to Vilda since 2018. So she is a continuation of the philosophy and the methodology that were already put into practice, even if she was one of those 11 that resigned after Rubiales gave his speech.

"The thing is, there are a lot of questions about how the players themselves are going to take this, because they haven't said anything as of yet.

"Some Spanish media are saying the players, more or less, got along with her quite well over the last few years, then others are saying no because she was very much on the side of Vilda when everything went down a year ago with those 15 players sending the email to the federation. The rifts and the fractures are still very much there among a lot of these players.

"Yes, it's great to have a woman take up the role, but this would have been a brilliant opportunity to find the right person, male or female, somebody who was qualified, with the credentials to take up the position of now leading the best women's team in the world at present. It will be interesting to see what the response is."

The rise and fall of Vilda: A timeline

July 2015: Succeeds Ignacio Quereda as Spain head coach after he is sacked for poor performance during 2015 Women's World Cup.

September 2018: Finishes eighth at FIFA Best Awards for best women's coach after overseeing Spain's qualification for their second ever World Cup, while also leading U19s to Euros victory.

June 2019: Achieves qualification from World Cup group for first time in Spain's history, but beaten by winners USA in last 16.

September 2022: Fifteen Spain players write letter criticising RFEF and calling for Vilda's dismissal after poor Euro 2022 performance, and refuse to represent country while he remains in post. RFEF president Luis Rubiales publicly backs manager and threatens mutinous players with five-year ban from selection.

May 2023: Three of those 15 are named in Vilda's World Cup squad - Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey and Ona Batlle.

August 20, 2023: Vilda leads Spain to first major trophy with World Cup final victory over England in Sydney, but is booed in the stadium when his name is read out.

August 25, 2023: Appears alongside men's manager Luis de la Fuente in front row of press conference in which Rubiales repeatedly refuses to resign and hits out at critics for kissing Spain forward Jenni Hermoso - and is pictured applauding RFEF president's comments. Rubiales publicly promises Vilda new, improved contract during speech.

August 26, 2023: Spain women's coaching staff, with the notable exception of manager Vilda, resign en masse. Vilda later criticises Rubiales' conduct in a statement issued to Spanish press, but does not call on him to resign. Spain's entire World Cup-winning squad later refuse to play internationally again until Rubiales leaves office.

August 28, 2023: With Rubiales suspended for 90 days by FIFA, regional heads of Spanish football demand Rubiales' resignation as reports claim the RFEF has asked UEFA to suspend its teams from international competition.

September 5, 2023: In a statement from interim president Pedro Rocha, the RFEF apologises for the "enormous damage" caused by Rubiales' actions, and promises organisational restructure.

September 5, 2023: Vilda is sacked by RFEF, in a statement praising him for his role in advancing Spain's women's teams.

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