A picture tells 1000 words and that was the case in the aftermath of Spain’s incredible 1-0 victory on Sunday night in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
As celebrations begun, the extent of the sad divisions in the Spanish team soon became evident for all to see.
In recent months turmoil and unrest has dogged the team and their much-maligned coach Jorge Vilda.
As Spain lifted the trophy at Stadium Australia, factions soon emerged.
Journalist Miguel Delaney tweeted a shot from the stands, with coaches celebrating on one side of the pitch and players on the other.
“Some of the players did celebrate with Vilda after, as they have done in other games, which only points to the complexity of the relationships within this Spanish squad,” he said.
“Rarely can major champions have had as many layered issues as this.”
The result was scarcely believable in the wake of a player mutiny last year that followed their qualification, when 15 players stepped away from national team duty.
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Players cited concerns over under-investment and Vilda’s allegedly authoritarian approach to management.
Spain’s federation backed the coach and the majority of ‘Las 15’ made themselves available for selection.
Only three, Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey, and Ona Batlle, returned, while stars including Mapi Leon, Patri Guijarro, and Claudia Pina continued their boycott.
Spain consistently closed ranks throughout the tournament regarding their internal unrest.
At one point, some players did get around their coach and pick him up in the celebrations, but there was also an awkward moment where he jumped around with players who basically ignored him.
Jorge Vilda is lifted up by his players. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Former Socceroos star John Aloisi said on the Channel 7 commentary: “Everyone spoke about their coach, that the players didn’t like him, there was turmoil back in Spain going back over a year ago now.
“But Jorge Vilda, give him credit, because he believed in himself, he believed that he could actually get this team to compete on the world stage, and he’s gone and won a World Cup now.”
Mel McLaughlin added: “So, a lot of (former Spain national) players are sitting back at home watching this — I’m not sure what becomes of that. It just makes it even more so remarkable.”
After the match Vilda broke away from his standard lines and addressed the elephant in the room.
“I said the other day if all of this was necessary to be world champions, that it’s valid,” said Vilda, who indicated he had no appetite to stand down after lifting the World Cup.
“At the sporting level I think it’s been a great year.
“It’s been difficult in a personal level management level but at the sporting level we’ve achieved results that we’ve never achieved before.
“The full support of the federation has been incredible.”
Some players bristled at mention of the mutiny after the greatest victory of their lives.
Player of the tournament Aitana Bonmati said her “mind is not in this issue” and she was “focused on enjoying the trophy”.
“I’ve been talking about this issue in tournament a lot and now I want to focus on on these moments. It’s not fair that we are talking (about) this every moment,” she said.
Spain could have not won without Bonmati returning.
While captain on the night Olga Carmona was officially player of the match, Bonmati underlined her quality throughout the final with slick footwork, vision and skilful passing.
She also made the crucial tackle on Lucy Bronze that led to Spain’s goal.
Star attacker Jenni Hermoso summed up the mood with her revelry, saying the team dedicated the win to their families and supporters back home.
“We have played football the way we wanted to and we have won a World Cup. We are f***ing world champions!” she exclaimed after the final whistle.
After a long tournament, including multiple controversies, Spain have wasted no time packing up to head home.
Spain’s lengthy celebrations on and off the field delayed their media commitments, meaning by the time Vilda finished his press conference, the team had just two hours to get to the airport.
The team has been away for more than a month, including training and playing their first six matches in New Zealand.
They apologised to a local Maori in the days before the tournament for performing a haka, considered culturally offensive.
Spain also pushed back on an ESPN report that players had pressured the team organisers to leave their training base in Palmerston North as they were bored in the rural city.
– With AAP