Who is controversial Spain boss Jorge Vilda?

Inside the mutiny hanging over World Cup finalists Spain: Stars revolted over tactics, mental health… and not being allowed to lock their hotel room doors – but now only England can stop them

  • Spain have booked their place in the Women’s World Cup final for this year 
  • Their spot in the final is incredible given the turbulent tenure of Jorge Vilda 
  • WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 1 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show 

It’s been confirmed that England and Spain will go head-to-head in this year’s Women’s World Cup final – but the Lionesses rivals still have a squad mutiny hanging over them after months of chaos.

Sarina Wiegman’s side booked their spot in the final after a 3-1 victory over hosts Australia, while Spain triumphed 2-1 over Sweden on Tuesday to secure their place at Stadium Australia on Sunday.

However, it should not be understated as to how impressive Spain’s achievement in reaching the Women’s World Cup final is – given the shocking ongoings both on and off the pitch in recent years. 

From rules over bedroom doors, letters to the Spanish football federation and a player revolt involving 15 national team stars, head coach Jorge Vilda has been at the heart of all the drama.

So, here, Mail Sport takes a look a the player mutiny that Vilda is facing and how it’s managed to come about. 

Spain have booked their place in the Women’s World Cup final after a 2-1 win over Sweden

First team coach Jorge Vilda (middle) remains a divisive figure despite his on-field success

The Spaniard has previously been accused of inappropriate relationships and strange rules

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Vilda, like many, was a former professional player prior to his stint at management but struggled to build a successful career on the pitch. 

After failed stints at Real Madrid’s, Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano’s youth teams, he began as an assistant coach at WU17 and WU19 level, before taking the head coach’s position with Spain’s WU17s in 2009.

He spent five years with the national U17s side before moving on to Spain’s WU19s and then, in 2015, he moved on to the senior team after Ignacio Quereda was sacked following another rebellion in Spanish dressing room.

Since his appointment, he has managed to lead the Spanish side to Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup success – as well as their recent World Cup final qualification.

However, ongoing controversies off the the pitch have managed to mar his reputation among the national team players. 

For example, up until 2019, there was a rule that senior players were not allowed to shut their doors until Vilda had completed a check and approved of the conditions. Only then, once the manager had left, were the women allowed to lock their doors.

His close relationship with some of the senior women players had also been questioned by a number of squad members, who viewed his treatment of them as ‘childish’.

Vilda’s father, Angel, is head of the women’s department at the Spanish FA, making it incredibly difficult to remove him from his role. 

Jorge Vilda has been in charge of the Spanish women’s senior team since 2015

Spain’s players had voiced concerns about some of the rules in place during Vilda’s tenure


After their defeat to England in last summer’s Euros, the Spanish senior players felt that Vilda’s time at national team boss should come to an end. 

The team reportedly felt unprepared for their fixture with England, with players citing a lack of tactical analysis of opposition and inadequate training sessions. 

A number of the squad’s senior players set up a private video call with Spanish FA president, Luis Rubiales – who failed to see their perspectives.

Instead, Rubiales insisted that Vilda deserved to keep his job and refused to sanction his sacking. 

This led to the players releasing a formal statement, which read: ‘There is general discomfort in the group.

‘We have a group that can achieve big things,’ said Guijarro. ‘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.’

Players wrote to Spanish FA president, Luis Rubiales, but the football chief failed to agree


With little change being made within the Spanish women’s senior team, the players decided that they were the only ones who could orchestrate a change.

In September, ahead of a national team squad announcement, fifteen players wrote letters to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) saying they would not be available for selection while Vilda remained as manager and insisted that his management of the team was affecting their mental health. 

‘We want firm support for a professional project for women’s football,’ the statement read. ‘A project that takes care of every aspect to help us get the best performance possible from a group of players we consider can achieve better and great honours.

‘By any means, we have not quit the national team, as the Spanish FA say. Our commitment to the national team remains the same.’

The RFEF issued a strongly-worded statement in response, condemning that the selected players had committed a ‘very serious infraction’ by refusing to play for the country. 

The resignation threats could also result in a suspension of up to five years from the national team, and the RFEF demanded apologies from all of the players involved.

15 players wrote in to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to announce their refusal in being selected for a national team squad, due to their fractioned relationship with Vilda

The Spanish FA’s statement read: ‘The RFEF can confirm that, throughout today, we received 15 emails from 15 players of the women’s senior football team… in which they state that the current situation affects ‘significantly’ their emotional state and their health and that, ‘as long as it is not reversed’, they resign from the Spanish national team. 

‘The RFEF is not going to allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, since making those decisions does not fall within their powers.’ 

As a result, Vilda picked only three of the 15 stars who went on strike in his 23-player squad. 

Barca trio Mapi Leon, Patri Guijarro and Claudia Pina and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Lola Gollardo did not make themselves available for selection. Leon and Guijarroa in particular will be huge losses.

Barcelona’s Mapi Leon is one of the few who did not make themselves available for selection


Despite all of this controversy, Spain have still managed to secure a place in the Women’s World Cup final this year. 

After picking up two wins out of three in their group stage matches, they stormed past Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden to book their place in the final. 

Interestingly, two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas remained part of the squad – despite her agreement with her former team-mates. 

And, Putellas’ fractioned relationship with Vilda became apparent after her furious reaction to being substituted during the Sweden semi-final clash. 

Spain’s Alexia Putellas painted a frustrated figure after she was subbed off against Sweden

In a video that appeared on Twitter, Putellas could be seen slapping the hand of her coach, upon her substitution, before sitting down on the bench. 

Another coach also offered their hand to the 29-year-old but she, again, offered a cold reaction before heading into the dugout. 

It shows that Vilda’s support from within his changing room has faded but, if they are able to beat England in the final, he could still deliver success for the nation. 


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