In September 2022, the Spanish women's national team was the laughing stock of Europe. While women's soccer was making headway in the professionalization and improvement of conditions for players, 15 internationals declared war on coach Jorge Vilda so that Luis Rubiales, president of the RFEF, would hand them his head on a platter.
Almost a year later we have Spain in the World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand. Vilda is still in office and only three of those who reneged are in the national team today (Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona Caldentey).
And no hard feelings, the importance of the appointment made Vilda call some of the players who supported that blackmail as Irene Paredes or Jenni Hermoso, so that there was no trace of tension on the part of the Federation.
It will never be known what happened to start that blackmail. There is talk that the Barça players wanted to do the same as with their coach at the club, Luís Cortés, whom they forced to resign after the 2021 treble, and took advantage of the setback at the European Championship after the defeat by England in the quarterfinals.
Rubiales supported Vilda and sought a transition of players to face with guarantees a World Cup where Spain was seen capable of doing well in view of the victory against the United States, draw with Sweden for a total of 10 wins in 12 matches prior to the World Cup.
Spain will play its first women's World Cup final on Sunday at 12 noon Spanish time. Behind this match there is a firm commitment to this sport in Spain that, at times, can be interpreted as excessive if we compare it with the professionalization of other disciplines.
Neither the audiences nor the salaries are high, and even less so if we make the mistake of comparing it with men's soccer. But it is true that it is growing at its own pace and that the quarries of the big soccer teams are already making room for girls who want to play soccer and who previously had to quit at the age of 10 because they could not continue in mixed teams.
What happened against Sweden at Eden Park in Auckland in front of 43,000 spectators was the icing on the cake of all this and, once again, it is very reminiscent of Del Bosque's Spain, where the Salamanca native sought union before the blackboard so that from those good relations the soccer that led Spain to win its first World Cup in South Africa could be born.
The data are unbeatable for Spain, as they have been in almost all the matches of this World Cup. A lot of possession, which ended up at 57% although it reached 75%; 13 shots against five by the Swedes and another seven shots wide.
All the alarm bells went off on Spanish cell phones when Spain took the lead in the 75th minute. Those who were not watching the match on such a festive day on August 15 were disappointed a few seconds later because the goal was disallowed. In reality, it had been a play in which Olga Carmona had shot so close to the post that it looked as if the ball had gone in.
Salma Paralluelo scored another great goal in the 81st minute, but a Swedish player with a surname from the historical saga of Millenium, Blomqvist, equalized in the 88th minute and left Spain freezing in the heat wave. Carmona did get it right the second time and scored the second goal in the 90th minute with a rare overhead kick that left goalkeeper Musovic exposed.
🎙️ Zᴏɴᴀ ᴍɪxᴛᴀ:— Selección Española Femenina de Fútbol (@SEFutbolFem) August 15, 2023
🗣️ @laiacodina5: "Este equipo quiere más".
🗣️ @evaaanavarro: "Estamos eufóricas".
🗣️ @catacoll2001: "Será el partido de nuestras vidas".#JugarLucharYGanar I #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/TEkGm1L8n3
Seven extra minutes became interminable because Sweden brought out its power of the last appointments, semifinals in the last three major tournaments, World Cup, Euro and Olympic Games, but Spain controlled the game with good saves by Cata, the Barça substitute goalkeeper who has sent to the bench Misa Rodriguez, the Real Madrid goalkeeper.
The final whistle is worth for a women's World Cup final and gives reason to those who held a historic and at the same time ridiculous pulse with emboldened players to whom their challenge went so wrong, that now they can only watch the final from home.