Jenni Hermoso slams new Spain head coach over claim squad omission is ‘to protect her’

Jenni Hermoso holds her head

Jenni Hermoso has been at the centre of a storm since Spain won the Women’s World Cup – Reuters/Daniel Becerril

Jenni Hermoso has issued a stinging riposte to new Spain head coach Montse Tome’s claims that she did not call the forward up to her squad for her own protection.

Hermoso, who has accused former Spanish football federation [RFEF] president Luis Rubiales of sexual assault after being kissed on the lips in the aftermath of the World Cup final, was omitted from Tome’s first squad list, with the former assistant to ex-head coach Jorge Vilda saying: “We believe that the best way to protect her is like this.”

However, Hermoso has responded with a scathing statement on social media, asking: “Protect me from what? And from whom?

“We have been searching for weeks – months, even – for protection from the RFEF that never came. The people who now ask us to trust them are the same ones who today disclosed the list of players who have asked NOT to be called up.”

Hermoso also says it is clear “nothing has changed” at the RFEF after her team-mates received international call-ups on Monday despite having already stated their intentions to boycott.

The Spain players, who were named in Tome’s squad for the Nations League matches against Sweden on Friday and Switzerland next Tuesday, have said they are seeking legal advice, as they weigh up whether to attend their training camp on Tuesday morning.

New coach of Spain's female football team Montse Tome poses with a jersey following a press conference at the Ciudad del Futbol training facilities in Las Rozas de Madrid on September 18, 2023, ahead of the UEFA Nations League football matches against Sweden and Switzerland. Spain won the Women's World Cup in August but the four weeks since have been filled with controversy and turmoil after former president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso

Montse Tome has replaced Jorge Vilda as Spain’s head coach – Getty Images/ Thomas Coex

A statement – co-signed by 39 players on Friday, including Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and Hermoso – had stated they would not play for their national side again until there were further, structural changes at the RFEF to improve things for women in football. The players feel that statement has been ignored by the RFEF.

The RFEF issued a statement on Monday calling on the players to join them as they vowed to make changes, saying: “We guarantee a safe environment for the players and we are committed to a climate of mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women’s football continues to progress much more strongly.”

Hermoso responded by saying: “Let’s be clear: a claim was made stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin, yet at the press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me. Protect me from what?

“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions. It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that, even today, nothing has changed.

“I want to once again show my full support to my colleagues who have been caught by surprise and forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF. This is why we are fighting and why we are doing it in this way.”

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