Spain Women’s boss ‘forced stars to leave hotel rooms open and checked bags’

The Spain women’s national team were forced to “leave their hotel room doors open” by their controversial manager.

England’s Lionesses face one final hurdle before adding a World Cup trophy to their existing European crown. They take on Spain in Sunday’s final in Sydney, in what is expected to be a tough fixture against a team stacked with Champions League winners.

But while Spain are undoubtedly majestic on the field, they have succeeded in spite of a severely fractured dressing room. Their behind-the-scenes problems centre around head coach Jorge Vilda, who remains hugely unpopular despite their impressive run to the final.

The bubbling tensions were epitomised by Barcelona’s two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas ignoring Vilda’s hand after being substituted off against Sweden. Yet issues surrounding his management date back several years.

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Until 2019, Spain stars were reportedly banned from locking their hotel room doors before midnight. The bizarre rule was in place so that Vilda could carry out checks of their rooms before they were finally allowed to lock the door and go to sleep.

Another strange rule involved players being forced to show the contents of their bags if they brought something into training, leading several squad members to accuse the manager of treating them like children.

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The situation escalated when Spain were dumped out of last summer’s Euros by England, after which senior players claimed Vilda had not prepared them adequately with tactics and training sessions. They even set up a private call with Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales, who failed to acknowledge their complaints.

That led to the players writing up a formal statement, which read: “There is general discomfort in the group. We have a group that can achieve big things. After what we went through at the Euros and the months after it, we wanted to share with the FA our thoughts as a group.

“We are an ambitious group and believe there are certain internal mechanisms that should be replaced. It's about being brave. Sometimes you need to say things which sound unpleasant to make things change.”

Fifteen players – including Barcelona trio Mapi Leon, Patri Guijarro and Claudia Pina and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Lola Gollardo – decided to withdraw themselves from selection last September, claiming Vilda’s ongoing tenure was affecting their mental health.

But the Spanish Football Federation hit back by threatening five-year suspensions from the national team for all those involved. Vilda has since picked just three of the 15 stars who went on strike in his 23-player World Cup squad.

Vilda’s management career began with failed stints at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano's youth teams. He took on the head coach position with Spain's WU17s in 2009, with his father Angel being the head of the women’s department at the Spanish FA.

After five years, he moved on to Spain's WU19s. Vilda was appointed head coach of the senior team IN 2015 after Ignacio Quereda was sacked, following another rebellion in the Spain dressing room.

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