Jorge Vilda, the coach of Spain’s world champion women’s soccer team,has been firedamid controversy surrounding the head of the Spanish soccer federation kissing a player after the team’s World Cup win. Vilda had called the outrage over the kiss “real nonsense.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Royal Spanish Football Federation called Vilda a “key to the remarkable growth” of women’s soccer in the nation. This year’s World Cup win was a first for Spain’s national women’s team.
“We value his impeccable personal and sporting conduct, being a key player in the remarkable growth of women’s football in Spain. During his long period, Vilda has been a promoter of the values of respect and fair play in football,” the organization said. “…The RFEF would like to express its gratitude to Jorge Vilda for the services he has provided, for his professionalism and dedication during all these years, wishing him the best of success in the future.”
The kiss in question was initiated by now-suspended federation president Luis Rubiales. Following the team’s win, he grabbed player Jenni Hermoso’s head and kissed her on the lips, an action that prosecutors in the country’s top criminal court said could be considered sexual assault, as the kiss was one without Hermoso’s consent.
“I didn’t like it, but what can I do?” Hermoso said in an Instagram videofollowing the incident.
Just before the kiss, Rubiales was seen grabbing his crotch while cheering the team’s win as he was standing next to teenage Spanish Princess Infanta Sofía.
Vilda, who had been the women’s national team’s coach since 2015, told Spanish sports outlet La Marca after the kiss that the incident was a “real nonsense.”
“[It] generated an unprecedented situation, tarnishing a well-deserved victory for our players and our country,” he said, according to Sky News, also reportedly saying at one point, “There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular.”
However, Vilda was also one of dozens of men seen clapping when Rubiales addressed the controversy in a speech at an emergency meeting for the federation in which he repeatedly said “I will not resign.”
“A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here?” he said. “I will fight until the end.”
Rubiales has been provisionally suspended by FIFA and is facing a Spanish government case against him for the incident.