Spain coach Jorge Vilda said his team would not be in the Women’s World Cup semifinals if the country’s football federation had not backed him during last year’s player revolt.
Spain will battle Sweden in Auckland on Tuesday for a place in the final, nearly a year after 15 players threatened to quit if the long-serving Vilda was not fired.
The Spanish federation’s boss threw his support behind Vilda, who froze out the mutineers from his squad before welcoming some of them back for the World Cup.
Vilda has since guided the team to its first World Cup semifinal, four years after it made the last 16 in France.
“You’re asking about the past but first of all, I would like to acknowledge the backing and the support of our president Luis Rubiales from the very first day,” he told reporters in Auckland on Monday.
“Without that we would not be here. I’m quite sure all of this would not have happened.
“We have a president who reacted with courage and put his trust in me and my technical team, and we are very happy about the whole process.”
Emotions were running high in the Spain camp after beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
Several players broke down in tears, including veteran forward Jenni Hermoso, who spoke of playing to a crowd of 300 people early in her international career. Up to 43,000 are expected for the Eden Park semifinal.
Vilda said the team had been working with a psychologist, who had taught them how to manage their emotions.
“He’s also told us that it’s okay to cry,” he added.
“I was very emotional, not only for Jenni but for the situation of other players who have been through this.”
The winner on Tuesday will meet England or Australia in Sunday’s final.
Vilda said Sweden’s “obvious” strengths were its set-pieces and physicality but Spain would not change its game plan to tackle the Scandinavians.
“Everyone recognises the way that we play. Tomorrow we will keep to our script,” he said.
“It’s going to have to be the best version of Spain to be able to win the game.”
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