CORDOVA: Spain forward Mariona Caldentey said Monday she hopes the women’s team can compete at the Olympic Games next year, as long as it is under “the conditions we think we deserve”.
A players' strike threatened to derail the team's hopes of reaching the Paris Games in 2024, after disgraced former president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed a player following La Roja's Women's World Cup triumph in August.
Rubiales resigned from his post earlier in September after unprecedented outrage but many players called up for Nations League games remained on strike, demanding further changes within the federation, until a deal was struck last week between the two sides and the Spanish government.
The former federation chief is facing sexual assault charges after his kiss on the lips of midfielder Jenni Hermoso, who was not included in the squad.
Spain beat Sweden on Friday and face Switzerland on Tuesday in the Nations League group phase -- the two eventual finalists will appear at the Olympics.
“We want things to keep advancing, to keep improving, we’ll keep fighting for the same thing,“ Caldentey told a news conference.
“We don’t want what happened to repeat, these have been very hard days with a lot of stress, we want to win ... and be at the Olympic Games, but in the conditions we think we deserve.
“The federation, the CSD (Spain’s sports council) and the players have pledged to make these changes to keep advancing, we hope it all comes off, that we’re on a calmer path and we can keep enjoying football.”
Spain players have complained about inequality between the men's and women's team in terms of staffing and travel arrangement.
Two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas said Sunday the Spanish team once travelled by bus for six hours to get to a game, and on another occasion had to get up for a flight at three in the morning.
Barcelona duo Caldentey and Aitana Bonmati were voted in by the squad last week as two of the team's four captains, behind Putellas and Irene Paredes.
Bonmati said everything has been much calmer in recent days after a tough start to the national team camp, when players were called up against their will by new coach Montse Tome, who replaced the controversial Jorge Vilda.
“The first days were very complicated, we couldn’t sleep much with the stress and the anxiety,“ said Bonmati.
“Now it’s a lot calmer and we are completely focused on the football.”
Playmaker Bonmati, who was Spain's key figure on their run of World Cup glory in Australia and New Zealand, explained that the squad wanted to make an impact far beyond football.
“We want to leave a good legacy and good conditions for the generations that follow, we’re an example, not just on a sporting level but a social one,“ she added.
“An equal society in which men and women are equal and have the same rights.” - AFP