Spain‘s women’s team received the support of a record crowd on Tuesday in its first home match since winning the World Cup title.
A crowd of 14,194 saw Spain rout Switzerland 5-0 in the Nations League, surpassing the previous record of 11,209 fans for a women’s national team match in Spain, which was achieved in a friendly against the United States last year.
The local crowd, which did not fill the 21,000-capacity Nuevo Arcangel Stadium in Cordoba, showed their support for the players who have been fighting against sexism since their world title was tarnished by a scandal sparked by the former Spanish soccer federation president, Luis Rubiales, kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup awards ceremony.
Players boycotted the national team, but eventually a deal was reached with the federation and government mediators for significant reform in the beleaguered federation.
Interim Spain manager Montse Tome, who had caught many of the boycotting players by surprise when she called them up, said she was happy with how the team responded.
“The players have been 100% professional and what we want is to enjoy the victory today and start the next training camp strong,” Tome told a press conference in Cordoba, when asked if she had the players’ support to stay in charge.
“I’m confident in my work and I feel like I have always had the players’ confidence as well. That is what they showed me during all the process.
“In football and in competition, winning always gives you something different. We are happy.”
A banner shown by fans in Cordoba read “Your fight is our pride. You are not alone.”
Before the match, players from both teams got together and held a banner with the words “Se Acabo” — Spanish for “this is over” — followed by “Our fight is the global fight.”
The “Se Acabo” slogan was started by Hermoso’s teammate Alexia Putellas, Spain’s star player, and has been a rallying call amid the scandal. New coach Montse Tomé left Hermoso out of the squad “as a way to protect her.”
Players also wore wristbands with the “Se Acabo” slogan, and raised their wrists while posing behind the banner.
The national team showed off the World Cup trophy to the fans, with Putellas and Irene Paredes raising it in front of the home crowd.
“I hope the moment arrives [when we can focus only on football],” said Aitana Bonmati, who scored twice in the win. “But as you know it does not all depend on us [the players]. There has been a lot said among the different organisations, a lot of agreements and commitments made, so I hope we all do our part so that this doesn’t happen again and we can show the world of what we are: world champions and a developed country.
“It’s an honour to see the stadium full today. I think the World Cup is a before and after moment. We encourage fans to keep coming to watch the games. We are happy to be able to celebrate the World Cup with a game in front of our fans.”
Spain’s first match after the World Cup was a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Sweden in the Nations League last week.