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Rachel Corsie: I hope Spain’s players can enjoy Women’s World Cup success despite others’ unacceptable actions

In this week's column, Rachel discusses the controversy surrounding Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales and why women's football's leaders being proactive is a must off the back of a successful 2023 World Cup.

Spain lift the Women's World Cup trophy after beating England in the 2023 final.
Spain won the 2023 Women's World Cup after beating England in the final. Image: Shutterstock.

The past week should have been the biggest celebration of Spanish women’s football – and it has been extremely disappointing to see the spotlight of the players’ success stolen by the unsavoury actions of others.

Spain – who had never won a knockout game at a Women’s World Cup before – won the whole thing last Sunday, beating England 1-0 in the final.

It was an incredible achievement – even before you consider the circumstances in which Spain prevailed to become the new world champions.

The backdrop to Spain’s tournament was a highly controversial one.

In the build up to the World Cup, there were public disputes between players and coach Jorge Vilda, with several stars making themselves unavailable for the World Cup due to their concerns about his management style and other issues.

It was and continues to be a sad and demoralising situation, despite what was a wonderful Spanish showing at the tournament.

Olga Carmona in action for Spain in the 2023 World Cup final
Olga Carmona scored the only goal as Spain beat England 1-0 in the 2023 World Cup final. Image: Shutterstock.

The Spain players who did travel to the World Cup had to perform in what must have been strained conditions due to the public nature of the fall-out, while those who didn’t go missed out on the chance to represent their country on the biggest stage of all and, ultimately, medals they may never have another chance to claim.

Despite Spain’s incredible success at the World Cup, the issues behind-the-scenes clearly haven’t been resolved as throughout the tournament there was very little public positivity between the manager and the players.

And the controversy has continued after Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso on the mouth during the trophy ceremony.

Hermoso has since made a statement through her agency and union Futpro – who have said the incident should not go unpunished – while Fifa have confirmed they have opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales.

It was reported on Thursday evening that Rubiales is planning to resign from his position as president on Friday.

His behaviour was completely unacceptable, and his actions have become the main talking point, rather than the players’ achievements in winning the biggest trophy in global football.

Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales, left, and women’s team manager Jorge Vilda, right. Image: AP Photo.

I just hope the players have been able to shut out some of the noise over the past few days because they performed admirably over the course of the tournament, and have been able to support one another and celebrate their success.

But those players should not have to be their own biggest advocates, and nothing or no-one should be able to detract from their achievements as a squad.

The situation with Spain is a reminder we need the right people – people who genuinely care about all aspects of the women’s game – to be the ones who have the power and are making the biggest decisions.

It would be hugely transformative if we were no longer viewed as a secondary focus, and our welfare, resources and treatment as elite female athletes were treated as a priority.

Proactive progress needed off the back of World Cup

The World Cup was a fantastic month of football and has undoubtedly left a legacy for the women’s game in the host countries and beyond – but actions speak louder than words.

We need to be proactive and make sure positive change comes from the tournament.

When the United States won the previous two editions of the World Cup in 2015 and 2019, I was playing my club football in America with Seattle Reign and then Utah Royals.

Do I feel like the NWSL benefited from the success of the World Cup winning squads? It definitely did, but it certainly could have benefited more.

There were aspects which improved, but I don’t believe the people who held the powerful positions maximised the potential of the USA’s achievements to benefit the NWSL and the wider landscape of women’s football as much as it should have.

USA’s Megan Rapinoe with the World Cup trophy in 2019. Image: Shutterstock.

We want to be role models and inspire the future generation, but as players what we also really want to do is our job without the responsibilities of also being the sole enforcers of change.

For so long the pioneers of the women’s game have been the players, and we have had to break so many barriers down.

Now, we have to capitalise on the success of tournaments like the World Cup, and that “we” isn’t just us as players – it is the sponsors, the clubs, the federations, the leagues. It’s everyone.

SWPL title contenders meet for first time this season

Rangers host reigning SWPL champions Glasgow City this weekend in what is the first meeting of the two sides I would expect to be challenging for the title.

A lot has changed since the two sides last met on the final day of the season when City won at Ibrox to secure their 16th title.

Most of the change has come at Rangers, with new manager Jo Potter coming in as she looks to implement her style on the team. The early signs have been positive, and it’s been interesting to see her integrate more youth into the squad.

A clash against City will be a challenge for those young players. They will have to have the mental and emotional maturity for the step up against the reigning champions.

Rangers head coach Jo Potter
Rangers head coach Jo Potter. Image: Shutterstock.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen host Hearts and go into the challenging game following a positive start to the season.

The Dons have picked up six points from a possible nine after beating Motherwell and Montrose, with the defeat coming against Rangers – and it is the best possible start they could have hoped to have made.

It’s a good platform to build on and I’m sure there is a really good feeling among the squad just now.