Sydney, Australia – from Spain road to world CupThe finale has been filled with more drama than your typical finalist.

From an injury to a superstar player to a mid-tournament struggle over housing to a near mutiny, it has been an uncertain road to put it mildly. But it is difficult to say based on the results.

since last september this red was terminated by England At the European Championships, 15 players sent identical emails to the Royal Spanish Football Federation explaining that they were withdrawing from the national team if coach Jorge Villada did not step down.

The players were protesting against what Wilda and his staff described as a hostile environment. While the specific complaints were never fully disclosed publicly, the list was long and included such things as disagreeing with Vilda’s strategy, a lack of professionalism, and that certain incidents had a “significant impact on my emotional state and my health”. , the players said. his letter.

15 signees included big stars like aitana bonmati, stone pebbles, ona battle, Marion Caldenti, Claudia Pina, sandra panos And mapy leone, the key player of the team who plays for Club Barcelona and won the Champions League earlier this year. two-time Ballon d’Or winner alexia putellas Did not send any email but was unavailable for selection while recovering from an ACL injury. then captain irene paredes Neither did, but both players were supportive of their teammates.

The federation sided with Vilda, who has been head coach since 2015, and refused to discuss the matter with the players. A statement at the time said, “The RFEF will not allow players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, as it does not fall within their powers to make these decisions.” The RFEF also told the players involved that they needed to apologize and could be banned from the national team for 2-5 years.

Paredes, who has played every minute of this World Cup, said his teammates were not demanding Villada’s ouster, they just wanted to have their say and were denied that right.

“We believe there are some internal aspects that they can change,” Paredes said last summer,

“We would have liked to have stayed in, but there are things that have leaked out that are not true. There are times when things have to be said, even if they are not pleasant, in order to change them.”

Additionally, there were some players who supported Vilda and said they had a good working relationship with their coach, although none felt compelled to discuss the topic openly during the World Cup.

Spain vs England 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final Preview

Fast forward to this summer, and only three of those 15 players made the World Cup roster, including Bonmati, who scored three goals for Spain in the final. He, along with Caldenti and Battle, all started the semi-final win. Sweden Last week. León, Guijarro, Piña and Panos were not among the 23 players selected.

And even the near-insurrection was not the only distraction this side had to deal with. During the group stage, the players and their families were unhappy with the team’s base camp in Palmerston, New Zealand, located just north of Wellington. The city meant that all of the team’s matches were either in Wellington or Auckland, which was an hour’s flight away. But the players and their families were reportedly bored, so officials helped the entire group move to Wellington in the middle of the tournament.

The team also faced the return of Putelas after that devastating injury. spent most of his tournament waiting, However, in the meantime, several others have come forward – including Bonmati. round dawn, jennifer beautiful and 19 year old Salma Parluelo,

Watch this Spain team play a match and it would be hard to imagine the turmoil going on behind closed doors. It plays organised, technical football. It is ruthless in its attack and has scored more goals (17) than any other team in the tournament.

‘The shot will always be with me’ – Salma Parluelo on her clutch goal against Netherlands and making history with Spain

It is also remarkable to consider that this is only the team’s third World Cup. Four years earlier, it had been ousted 2–1 by the United States in the Round of 16 thanks to a Megan Rapinoe penalty kick.

Spain is a rising force in women’s football and has been for quite some time. is not only this red They have reached Sunday’s World Cup final, where they will face England, but they are also the reigning Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup champions.

Spain is the youngest team here (25.3 years old on average), but the players are mature enough not to let what happens off the field affect them.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Four years ago, the US women’s national team filed an equal pay lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation in March 2019, and the players shouldered that burden during the World Cup a few months later. Eventually he won it all.

[Spain, England will remind USWNT of its fatal flaws in this World Cup]

Spain can do the same. This team has performed and won many big games here and the players have performed emotional celebrations, dancing, crying and jumping over each other. Vilda has stayed more in the background and her videos have gone viral.

Following last week’s semi-final victory over Sweden, Vilda was asked about his team’s difficult World Cup journey.

“in support of [RFEF president] “Luis Rubiales and everyone in the federation mean a lot to me and will always be with me,” Villada said through an interpreter. Also for my family as they have suffered a lot this year.

“At the end of the day, it’s been a learning process, and I think it’s made all of us stronger. Now we can file it away and put it behind us and look forward to the future.” And may think we deserve to be there we are.”

Spain deserves to be in this World Cup final and look set to be a dominant team for years to come. But once this tournament is over, these issues will not end.

Lecon Littman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for Fox Sports. He previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman” to be published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow him on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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