Women's World Cup: Three 'protestors' included on Spain's short list

Spain coach Jorge Vilda named three of the 15 protesting players who previously asked not to be selected for the Women's World Cup on Monday.

Barcelona duo Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey, and Manchester United's Ona Batlle were included, along with two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas -- who had not joined the protest -- fit again after injury.

Spanish newspaper Marca reported last week 12 of the 15 players had asked to be considered for selection again and were no longer in self-imposed exile after agreements with the Spanish football federation (RFEF) had been reached.

Four Spain and Barcelona stars missing from the list, who were among the protest group, are midfielder Patri Guijarro, defender Mapi Leon, forward Claudia Pina and goalkeeper Sandra Panos.

The quartet won the women's Champions League with their club earlier this month, with Guijarro named player of the match after scoring a brace in the 3-2 win over Wolfsburg.

"I will speak about the players who are here and not the ones who aren't," Vilda told a news conference after naming 30 players who will train together ahead of the tournament. "The federation, from the president down to us, the technical team, has always been open to dialogue. We've always been looking to solve this conflict, and it's practically resolved, there are some details left. We're focused on the players who are committed."

In September, the RFEF said 15 players had emailed them to resign from the team because they were concerned with conditions during international call-ups.

The players later published a statement on social media, stating they were unhappy with "situations affecting our emotional and personal state" affecting performance and increasing injury risk. 

However the RFEF backed Vilda and his staff, who named subsequent squads filled with younger players and others who had not yet been able to establish themselves at international level.

Spain has lost just one of the nine games since the protest began, winning seven, including friendly wins over the United States and Norway.

Putellas, who has missed most of the season after sustaining a knee injury with Spain last July ahead of Euro 2022, returns for the first time since then. While she was not one of the initial 15, she has shown her support for the players and published their statement on her own social media accounts in September.

"We are not rebels," said Putellas in March. "It's exhausting to have to be constantly demanding improvements to help us perform better."

Putellas has not started a match since her injury but has made several substitute appearances for Barcelona in the final weeks of the season, including in the Champions League final (photo).

"It's great news Alexia is back and she's played minutes with her club," said Vilda.
"We know that she will help us a lot, that's something in the last Euros we couldn't have."

Vilda's final 23-player squad list will be published on June 30, ahead of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which starts on July 20.

"I'm convinced that we will form a united group," said the coach.

Spain Preliminary Roster:
Goalkeepers: Elisa Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Cata Coll (Barcelona), Enith Salon (Valencia), Elene Lete (Real Sociedad)
Defenders: Ivana Andres (Real Madrid), Olga Carmona (Real Madrid), Sheila Garcia (Atletico de Madrid), Irene Paredes (Barcelona), Rocio Galvez (Real Madrid), Ona Batlle (Manchester United, England), Laia Codina (Barcelona), Paula Tomas (Levante), Oihane Hernandez (Athletic), Jana (Barcelona)
Midfielders: Claudia Zornoza (Real Madrid), Irene Guerrero (Atletico de Madrid), Maria Perez (Barcelona), Alexia Putellas (Barcelona), Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona), Teresa Abelleira (Real Madrid), Maite Oroz (Real Madrid), Fiamma Benitez (Valencia)
Forwards: Jenni Hermoso (Pachuca, Mexico), Esther Gonzalez (Real Madrid), Alba Redondo (Levante), Athenea del Castillo (Real Madrid), Marta Cardona (Atletico de Madrid), Salma Paralluelo (Barcelona), Eva Navarro (Atletico de Madrid), Imma Gabarro (Sevilla)


© Agence France-Presse

Putellas Photo: © Imago via ZUMA Press/ISI Photos

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