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Spain players end boycott after federation commits to change

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The vast majority of Spain’s women’s squad agreed to end their boycott of the national team early on Wednesday after the country’s football federation (RFEF) said it would make “immediate and profound changes” to its structure.

The decision was reached around 5 a.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) after more than seven hours of meetings at a hotel in Oliva, an hour from Valencia, involving the players, RFEF officials, the National Sports Council (CSD) and the women’s players’ union FUTPRO.

Two players, Mapi León and Patri Guijarro, decided to leave the training camp, saying they are not ready represent Spain at this time, but the other 21 players have stayed and will play in the UEFA Nations League clash against Sweden on Friday.

When asked why she left the camp, Guijarro told reporters: “They are working on changes. It’s a different situation for us. It’s tough, it’s difficult. Being here, after the way everything has happened, mentally we were not ready to stay. That’s the explanation.”

León and Guijarro had boycotted the Women’s World Cup after first refusing to play for the national team in March due to the treatment of players.

Spain’s players, who clinched the country’s first Women’s World Cup title last month, had said they would not play for the national team until there were further changes at the federation, deepening a crisis that started after former RFEF boss Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup presentation ceremony.

The Spain squad for the Sweden match only includes 15 players for the World Cup-winning squad, most notably omitting Hermoso who accused the RFEF of trying to divide and manipulate the players.

“A joint commission will be created between RFEF, CSD and players to follow up on the agreements, which will be signed tomorrow,” CSD President Victor Francos told reporters.

“The players have expressed their concern about the need for profound changes in the RFEF, which has committed to making these changes immediately.”

“The players see it as a rapprochement of positions. It is the beginning of a long road ahead of us,” FUTPRO president Amanda Gutierrez told reporters.

“Once again, they have shown themselves to be coherent and the vast majority have decided to stay for the sake of this agreement.”

Later on Wednesday, the RFEF announced the first measure: To remove the adjective “female” from the women’s national team’s official brand to harmonise it with the men’s squad. From now on, both will be known as “Spanish national football team.”

“Beyond it being a symbolic step, we want it to be a change of concept, and the recognition that football is football, no matter who plays it,” RFEF President Pedro Rocha said, adding this would promote a more egalitarian concept of the sport.

After most of the Women’s World Cup winners were selected for upcoming games, the players said in a joint statement they would take the “best decision” for their future and health after they studied the legal implications of being included in a squad list they had asked to be left out.

They argued the federation cannot require their presence because they alleged the call-up was not issued within FIFA’s parameters in terms of timings and procedure.

The players could have faced sanctions including fines of up €30,000 ($32,000) and the suspension of their federation licence for two to 15 years according to Spain’s Sports Act if they had refused the call-up.

Spain won last month’s Women’s World Cup final against England. Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“The first thing they have been told here has been: whoever is not at ease, does not feel strong enough, should know that neither the federation nor the CSD was going to apply a sanctioning process,” Francos said.

The revolt by the players was triggered after former RFEF chief Rubiales kissed forward Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s World Cup victory.

She disputed his insistence the kiss was consensual, sparking a national debate about macho culture in sport and eventually led to Rubiales’s resignation.

Spain are set to make their debut in the Women’s Nations League against Sweden in Gothenburg on Friday before playing against Switzerland in Cordoba on Sept. 26.

The Nations League will determine which teams from Europe qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The RFEF said the players would have a late breakfast after resting and will hold their first practice on Wednesday afternoon before travelling to Gothenburg on Thursday morning.

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Dominican Republic 2024: Flamingos thrash Burkinabe girls 6-0 to cruise into final round

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Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat

Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday evening.

Goal-poacher Harmony Chidi, who netted six of Nigeria’s dozen goals in the 12-0 annihilation of Central African Republic in the first round and also got the team’s goal in the 1-1 draw away in Bamako last week Saturday, came up big again with a hat-trick in front of delighted spectators in Nigeria’s administrative capital.

She put the Nigeria U17 girls in front after 11 minutes, capitalizing on a defensive blunder by the duo of Faridatou Ouedraogo and Obaidatou Nkiema to dribble past goalkeeper Agueratou Baguian. Four minutes later, Shakirat Moshood’s angled shot was foiled by the upright, and in the 27th minute, Peace Effiong’s dashing run ended with a tame shot.

Effiong made amends in the 34th minute, riding a couple of rough tackles to flash past the overworked Baguian as spectators egged the Flamingos on. She should have made it 3-0 with four minutes left in the first period, but got too much purchase on the ball from four yards.

In the second half, visiting goalkeeper Baguian drew applause with an excellent double save from Harmony Chidi in the 55th minute, but the World Cup bronze medallists reserved their greater potency for the last quarter-hour. In the 74th minute, Taiwo Afolabi’s soaring volley from 20 yards rocked the crossbar, but Chidi was on hand to coolly nod it into the net.

Substitute Ramota Kareem made it four in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, Chidi got her hat-trick with a dipping shot, and with one minute left on the clock, Effiong got her brace after a wonderful team move.

Victory earned Nigeria a 7-1 aggregate win, and a place in the final round against the winner of the Senegal/Liberia fixture. The first leg is scheduled for Saturday, 8th June.

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Xavi faces sack at Barcelona

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Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish

Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish media has reported.

Catalan radio station RAC-1 said president Joan Laporta had decided to sack Xavi, with daily newspaper Sport confirming the news, while AS said Barcelona were already deciding who would replace the coach.

In January, Xavi said he would leave at the end of the season but, after a run of strong form, in April he and president Joan Laporta agreed the coach would stay for the next campaign, with his contract expiring in June 2025.

However, Laporta did not travel with the team for their 2-0 in at Almeria in La Liga on Thursday, with Spanish media reporting he was angry with Xavi’s pre-match comments.

The coach had highlighted Barcelona’s financial difficulties in comparison to the strength of new Spanish champions Real Madrid and other European giants.

“Barcelona fans have to understand, we’re not in the same situation (as those clubs),” said Xavi on Wednesday.

The coach stood by his words on Thursday when he was asked about Laporta not attending the Almeria match.

“They haven’t told me anything personally… We travelled with the sporting vice-president, more directors, all normally,” Xavi told reporters late Thursday. “I said what I think is real, that we will fight for all the trophies, with a lot of hope, with ambition, but that the situation is not easy.

“We are working very well, the club most of all, to change this situation.”

Barcelona won La Liga last season but were not able to defend the title. They went out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Paris Saint-Germain and will end the season trophy less.

Real Madrid thrashed Barca in the Spanish Super Cup final while Athletic Bilbao eliminated them in the Copa del Rey.

In April, Xavi, 44, said he was “full of hope” and that fans, players and “above all the confidence of the president and (sporting director) Deco” was what convinced him to stay.

Laporta said at the time that he was glad Xavi would remain at the helm and that it was good for the stability of the club.

“It’s great news that Xavi is staying,” the president told a news conference.

“The team we have, that is (still) consolidating, with very young players, needs that stability.

“Xavi is a reference for young players and we can see that – today I’m especially pleased, and the board have unanimously supported this decision.”

Laporta appointed Xavi, one of Barcelona’s greatest ever midfielders, to replace Ronald Koeman in November 2021.

As a player, Xavi made 767 appearances for Barcelona, winning four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles, as well as the World Cup with Spain.

During his time as Barcelona coach, he lifted the Spanish Super Cup last season, along with the league title.

 

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Kane to miss Bayern’s game at Hoffenheim

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Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich's final game of the season with a back injury - less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his

Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich’s final game of the season with a back injury – less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his England squad for Euro 2024.

Bayern end their campaign at Hoffenheim on Saturday – live on Sky Sports – but Kane has not travelled with the squad.

“Harry Kane is receiving treatment from his personal doctor,” said Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel. “He can’t travel with us.”

Kane has not played since being replaced late in Bayern’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final second leg earlier this month.

Bayern were leading 1-0 in the Bernabeu – and 3-2 on aggregate – when Kane was replaced but conceded two late goals to exit the competition.

Tuchel explained after that defeat that striker Kane had suffered a back injury and on Friday he said: “It was already questionable in Madrid. It’s gotten worse.”

Bayern have endured a difficult campaign, failing to win the Bundesliga for the first time in 12 seasons and exiting the DFB Pokal to third-tier Saarbrucken.

owever, Kane has enjoyed a prolific campaign on an individual level, scoring 44 goals in 45 games across all competitions after joining Bayern from Tottenham in August.

 

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