Women's Nations League: much more than a victory for the Spanish, who won 3-2 in Sweden

For their first outing since the Luis Rubiales affair and with the world champion star on their jersey, the Spanish football players dominated Sweden 3-2 on Friday September 22, at the end of a match that both teams had started by displaying their solidarity in the fight against sexist violence and for equality between men and women

Women's Nations League: much more than a victory for the Spanish, who won 3-2 in Sweden

For their first outing since the Luis Rubiales affair and with the world champion star on their jersey, the Spanish football players dominated Sweden 3-2 on Friday September 22, at the end of a match that both teams had started by displaying their solidarity in the fight against sexist violence and for equality between men and women.

With a converted penalty at the end of added time, FC Barcelona winger Mariona Caldentey offered much more than three points to Spain, which is trying to get its head above water after weeks of controversy. La Roja is taking the lead in its Nations League group, qualifying for the Paris 2024 Games, but the main thing was elsewhere.

Returning headlong to the selection, because they feared being sanctioned if they refused, the world champions left the pitch in Gothenburg all smiles, jumping into each other's arms, like on August 20, in Sydney, when Spain was installed on the roof of the world. Before plunging into crisis.

“It’s a victory that means a lot, I’m really happy for them because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen players having so much fun,” said new coach Montse Tomé, appointed at the heart of the crisis. . “The only thing we needed was to be allowed to work,” she added at a press conference.

The Spanish internationals’ fight is “a global fight” for equality between men and women

Alongside their Swedish opponents, the Spanish players above all transmitted a strong message to the world before the match: sexual assault and macho behavior such as Luis Rubiales' forced kiss on Jenni Hermoso, "it's over".

Before kick-off, the twenty-two players posed behind a common banner bearing the slogan “Se Acabo” (“it’s over”) and proclaiming that the fight for the Spanish internationals is “a global fight” for equality between men and women, in sport and in society.

Just before this strong gesture, the Spanish women had raised their fists in their official photo to reveal bandages on their wrists. Most had written in marker the same message "Se Acabo", while others had simply marked "Jenni" or the number 10 of Jennifer Hermoso, not summoned by Montse Tomé for this meeting in order, she said , to “protect” her.

A reaction of champions

Nine of the twenty-three world champions who refused to return to the selection, first demanding profound changes within the Spanish Football Federation, were finally starting at kick-off.

Led by double Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas, back in the starting lineup, and by the best UEFA player of the year Aitana Bonmati, still as comfortable with the ball at her feet, the Spaniards largely dominated the match.

However, they got off to a bad start, conceding Eriksson's opener with a cross header from a corner in the 23rd minute (1-0). But the La Roja players had the reaction of champions, gradually rediscovering the collective play that allowed them to win the World Cup in August. They equalized in the 38th minute, taking advantage of a hand fault from Musovic on a long shot from Real Madrid winger Athenea Del Castillo (1-1).

In a one-sided second period, where Bonmati (55th) and Del Castillo (63rd) had the opportunities to kill the match, Spain ended up taking the advantage thanks to a superb curling shot from the left into the top corner of Atlético Madrid striker Eva Navarro (2-1, 78th). While they had the match in hand, Putellas and her teammates, who had hardly been able to train before the match, conceded the equalizer in the 82nd minute (2-2).

But, as in their fight for better consideration of women's football, they refused to give up and obtained a penalty at the end of added time, transformed into force by Caldentey (95th). “These days have been difficult for all of us, but we have shown that we are a real team that wants to represent our country and that fights until the end,” summed up scorer Athenea Del Castillo on Spanish public television.

Spain now has a meeting with Switzerland on Tuesday to confirm this rebound and try to end the crisis.