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Spanish women's soccer in turmoil after player revolt

More than half of the Spain women’s team has told their federation they no longer want to play because being on the team has “significantly” affected their “emotional state” and health

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — More than half of the Spain women’s team no longer want to play in protest at their coach, though they don’t want him removed.

Fifteen players have told the Spanish federation that being on the team has “significantly” affected their "emotional state” and health.

The players, however, insisted on Friday they have not asked for coach Jorge Vilda to be axed, but instead want from him and the federation "a clear commitment to a professional project with attention paid to all the aspects needed to get the best performance of this group of players.”

"We understand that it is not our job in any case to choose a coach, but it is our job to express in a constructive and honest way what we consider can improve the performance of the group,” the players said in a statement on their social media accounts.

The federation has interpreted the players’ move as an attempt to “pressure” its leadership into firing Vilda, who the players have publicly questioned in recent weeks.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the federation said it “won’t permit its players to question the continuance of the national team coach” and that it wouldn’t “tolerate any type of pressure by any player.”

The rift between players and federation exploded on Thursday when the 15 players sent identical emails to the federation asking not to be called up again because of the emotional pain it meant to play for the team. The email sent by the players was published by local media on Friday. The federation confirmed to The Associated Press that the email was genuine, and the names of the 15 players.

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