(Reuters) – Jenni Hermoso said the decision to call up players who are boycotting the Spanish women’s team was proof that “nothing has changed” at the country’s federation (RFEF) even after the resignation of its president over the Women’s World Cup kiss scandal.
After most of Spain’s World Cup winning squad were selected for upcoming games earlier on Monday, the players said they would continue their boycott, which came after Luis Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation ceremony in Australia.
Should the players refuse the call-up they could face fines of up 30,000 euros ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years under Spain’s Sports Act.
Victor Francos, the head of Spain’s government national sports agency, told SER radio station if the players did not show up “the government must apply the law”.
Hermoso, who was not called up for the squad, said the players had been “caught by surprise” by the call-ups and were forced to react to “another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decision within the RFEF”.
“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussion and economic sanctions,” the 33-year-old striker said in a statement posted on X social media.
“It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that even today, nothing has changed.”
The RFEF did not respond immediately to a request for comment outside normal business hours.
The federation said in a statement earlier on Monday it was convinced of the need for “structural changes” and had to clarify who was responsible for the behaviour the players had brought to light.
Montse Tome, who has replaced Jorge Vilda as coach of the national team, suggested Hermoso was left out of the squad because of the intense media attention she had received in the past month.
“We stand with Jenni … we believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni,” Tome said.
Hermoso asked who she needed protection from.
“A claim was made today 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,” she said.
“Protect me from what? And from whom?”
(Reporting by Angelica Medina in Mexico City; Editing by Peter Rutherford)