Spain’s new women’s football team coach, Montse Tome, has selected most of the players who won the Women’s World Cup last month for upcoming fixtures against Sweden and Switzerland. This move is seen as an attempt to pressure the players into ending their boycott. The boycott was initiated after player Jenni Hermoso was kissed on the lips by Luis Rubiales, the boss of the country’s football federation (RFEF), following Spain’s World Cup victory. Hermoso disputed the claim that the kiss was consensual, sparking a national debate about macho culture in the sport. However, Hermoso was not included in the squad announced by Tome on Monday. The squad includes 15 of the cup-winning players and two additional players who were not called up for the finals after signing an open letter against the previous coach. The players have not yet indicated whether they will end their boycott, and some were surprised to learn of their inclusion in the squad through media reports. Some players are seeking legal advice due to fears of punishment if they refuse the call-up. According to Spain’s Sports Act, players who refuse the call-up could face fines of up to 30,000 euros ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation license for two to 15 years. Tome, who was previously an assistant to the former coach, Jorge Vilda, stated that none of the players had requested not to be selected. She expressed confidence in the professionalism of the players and their commitment to the sport. However, a group of 39 players, including 21 from the cup-winning squad, have stated that they want further changes at the football federation and will not return until there are more significant changes. Twenty of these players were included in the squad for the upcoming matches against Sweden and Switzerland. The boycott was initially called by a group of 81 players in response to the controversy surrounding Rubiales’ kiss. Tome explained that Hermoso was left out of the squad due to the intense media attention she has received in the past month. The federation has acknowledged the need for “structural changes” and is working to determine who is responsible for the behavior that the players have brought to light.
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