Saturday, May 25, 2024

Jorge Vilda to coach Morocco after being ousted as Spain manager following Women’s World Cup controversy

Jorge Vilda, the disgraced coach who was fired weeks after Spain lifted the Women’s World Cup for the first time, was named the manager of Morocco’s women’s national team on Thursday.

Vilda replaces Reynald Pedros, who coached the team from November 2020 through this year’s Women’s World Cup. Morocco are a team on the rise in women’s soccer and made incredible strides under Pedros. They were finalists at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, their deepest run at the tournament, and advanced to the round of 16 at their first-ever World Cup this year.

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Vilda previously coached Spain from 2015 until last month, a spell of time that included the team’s World Cup triumph. Spain were considered one of women’s soccer’s emerging powerhouses but before they won the World Cup, Vilda’s side struggled to break into the upper echelon of the game — they had not won a knockout match in a major international tournament until their round of 16 win over Switzerland at this year’s World Cup.

Amidst inconsistent on-field results, Vilda was mired in controversy for the latter part of his stint with Spain. Fifteen players, including eventual World Cup golden boot winner Aitana Bonmati, refused to play for the national team in Sept. 2022 citing an unprofessional and toxic culture, some of which was attributed to Vilda’s leadership. The players accused the coaching staff of restricting privacy during training camps, from forcing them to keep their hotel rooms open to inspecting their bags.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation controversially stuck by Vilda and demanded that the players apologize. Eight eventually did and made themselves available for the World Cup, and three made Vilda’s roster. Though the World Cup ended on a victorious note, the signs of tension between Vilda and the players were clear — he was booed at the final by fans and iced out of post-match celebrations.

After then-federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed Jennifer Hermoso as she collected her winner’s medal, Vilda positioned himself as his boss’ ally. He reportedly tried to persuade Hermoso and her loved ones to appear in a Rubiales apology video that convinced no one and applauded the disgraced exec when he refused to resign. Rubiales was suspended by FIFA and then finally resigned three weeks after the final.

Vilda was fired five days before Rubiales resigned in a move from the federation’s interim president, Pedro Rocha, that was indicative of Spanish soccer’s intent to move forward from the controversy. Vilda was replaced by his former assistant, Montse Tome.

Morocco return to action for a pair of Olympic qualifiers against Namibia on Oct. 23 and Oct. 31.

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