15 Of Spain's Women's Football Team Threaten To Quit For Their Mental Health

Their strong stand comes at a time when sportspeople – and the word's workforce – are saying "enough".
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By now, you’ve probably read about the trend of quiet quitting at work, where employees commit to completing the basic requirements of their job description – and nothing else. It’s all about inserting boundaries for your wellbeing.

Now, 15 members of the Spanish women’s football team have taken things one step further, threatening to resign en mass over concerns for their mental health.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed it had received 15 emails – all identically worded – from players who refused to continue playing for their country under current head coach, Jorge Vilda.

In a statement, the RFEF said the players claim Vilda’s regime is affecting their “health” and “emotional state” and “as long as it is not reversed, they renounce the national team of Spain”.

The identities of the players who penned the letters have not been confirmed.

The Spanish team reached the quarter finals of this summer's UEFA Women's Euro.
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The Spanish team reached the quarter finals of this summer's UEFA Women's Euro.

The governing body responded by saying the players could be disqualified for up to five years and will only be allowed to play again “if they assume their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.

The news is pretty extraordinary, coming in the wake of the Euros and at a time when women’s football is in big focus. Plenty will remember watching the Spanish side in the quarter finals, where they were defeated by England 2-1.

It also coincides with something of a cultural shift in the sports world, with players increasingly prioritising their mental health.

Last year, the world watched as tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from tournaments to work on her mental health. British sports stars Marcus Rashford and Emma Raducanu have also spoken about overcoming overwhelm, while US gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from some of her Olympic events, because she didn’t feel in the correct headspace to compete.

It remains to be seen exactly how the news from Spain will play out.

In a statement, the Royal Spanish Football Federation said: “The RFEF will not allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach and his coaching staff, because making those decisions does not fall within their competences.”

The statement added: “The RFEF, contrary to the way these players act, wants to make it clear that it will not take them to this extreme or pressure them.

“Directly, it will not summon the players who do not want to wear the shirt of Spain. The Federation will only have committed players even if they have to play with youth.

“This has turned from a sporting issue to a question of dignity. Selection is non-negotiable. It is an unprecedented situation in the history of football, both male and female, in the Spanish and world arena.”

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.