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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.