The World Cup winner was not included on the new roster, but 20 players who signed a letter refusing to play were
Jenni Hermoso was not called up to join Spain's women's national football team roster for upcoming matches against Sweden and Switzerland. However, 20 players who planned to boycott the team until major changes were made to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) were.
When explaining why Spain's all-time leading scorer was not included, new coach Montse Tomé called it the "best way to protect her," per USA Today.
"The first thing to say is that we are with Jenni in everything," Tomé said. "We have believed that the best way to protect her in this call is like this."
"Protect me from what?" Hermoso began in a statement she shared in Spanish and English on social media Monday.
"Let's be clear: a claim was made today stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin yet at the same press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me," Hermoso wrote, referring to player safety.
After her team's World Cup victory over England, then-RFEF boss Luis Rubiales was seen kissing several players on the face, including Hermoso, during their celebration.
"Protect me from what? And from whom? We have been searching for weeks - months, even - for protection from the RFEF that never came," the 33-year-old striker continued. "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."
Tomé said she decided not to call up Hermoso “to protect her” following the controversy surrounding Rubiales' nonconsensual kiss after the World Cup final. In the aftermath, Rubiales doubled down on his defense of his actions during an emergency assembly, claiming he'd become a victim of "social assassination" and "false feminism" while addressing the incident, per the New York Times.
In her statement, Hermoso claimed her teammates believed that not calling all of them to practice was a means to "intimidate" them.
"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," she wrote, adding, "It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that even today nothing has changed."
Hermosa finished her statement by offering her full support to her colleagues who were "forced to react to another unfortunate situation caused by the people who continue to make decisions within the RFEF."
Prior to Tomé's announcement of the Spanish team's roster, the RFEF said in a statement that it was committed to change.
"We guarantee a safe environment for the players and advocate for a climate of mutual trust so that we can work together and ensure that women's football continues to progress much stronger," the federation said.
In a statement, FIFA said that the ban would bar him "from all football-related activities at national and international level," and he was also told to "refrain, through himself or third parties, from contacting or attempting to contact the professional player of the Spanish national football team Ms. Jennifer Hermoso or her close environment. "
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After Rubiales' public defense of his actions, Hermoso issued her own statement in August. "Simply put, I was not respected," she wrote. "I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part."
The RFEF issued an apology to "the football world" on Sept. 5, and announced the dismissal of head coach Jorge Vilda, who had coached the World Cup-winning team. Vilda reportedly applauded Rubiales' remarks at the emergency assembly, per USA Today.
"I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power so that it prevails," he wrote in a bolded section of the statement.
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