World Cup winners Spain are back in action for the first time since ending their boycott over Luis Rubiales and the kiss-gate controversy.
They returned to footballing matters to face Sweden in their opening game of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, following a meeting earlier this week with the Spanish FA.
The players were locked in talks for 5 hours with officials on Tuesday, where eventually all the squad bar two players agreed to end the boycott and declared themselves available for the national team.
Only defender Mapi Leon and midfielder Patri Guijarro – both of which also missed the World Cup after refusing to play – decided to walk away from the squad, while the rest of the players linked up with new coach Montse Tome for the match in Sweden.
Seven of the players who started in the World Cup final were named in the starting line-up, and before the game their opponents showed their solidarity for their counterparts by posing together alongside a banner that read #SeAcabo – translating to ‘It’s over’.
The Spain players take to the field for the first time following the end of the boycott on the national team as they take on Sweden
Before the game the Swedish players posed with their opponents and a banner of solidarity
Spanish boss Montse Tome was taking charge of her first match after sacking of Jorge Vilda
While the Spain players posed with clenched fists as a sign of their global fight in their pre-match photo.
Tome, who succeeded Jorge Vilda after the World Cup following complaints made by the squad about his coaching methods, picked her squad despite the players announcing intentions to go on strike following last month’s kissing scandal centred around Luis Rubiales.
The Spanish FA president was seen kissing striker Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the post-match celebrations following Spain’s first World Cup win in August, and it led to weeks of criticism over the behaviour.
Athenea del Castillo (middle) celebrates scoring the opener for Spain in their Nations League clash with Sweden
Rubliales eventually resigned from his post following the incident and is now facing charges of sexual assault and coercion over the matter.
However, after the seven-hour meeting that went on to nearly 5am on Wednesday, 20 of Tome’s 22 players agreed to end the national team boycott.
Spain took the lead in their first game as world champions, Athenea del Castillo opening the scoring, before they were pegged back thanks to a goal from former Chelsea defender Magdalena Eriksson.
After Sweden, Spain then take on Switzerland on Tuesday in their first home game since winning the tournament in Australia.