The Unnoticed Issue in Luis Rubiales’ Fall: ‘The 15’ Conflict

In the midst of a maelstrom of headlines after Luis Rubiales’ interview with Ana Pastor in LaSexta’s El Objective, there was an issue that went unnoticed. The “bites”, the blocked accounts, the arrests or the “truth serum” that Luis Rubiales spoke of silenced a critical point in his fall: ‘The 15’. An issue that – seen with perspective – marked the beginning of the end of Luis Rubiales as president of the RFEF.

In the days before the World Cup final, Luis Rubiales gave several interviews. In them, he went on to say that they had listened to the players and that they had given them and were going to give them what they asked for. “We have tried to respect and understand, to listen to criticism to improve. And the result of this is that in this concentration we have gotten more and more […] It is fair to recognize that there has been an important change because we believe in women’s football and we bet on it,” he reflected in El Periódico.

However, in the interview in El Objective he goes back on several occasions. “The changes that have occurred have not represented anything. What changes have there been? You tell me. What they wanted was for me to kill Jorge Vilda. Because? For no reason. Because the message did not arrive, because they were tired of it,” she tells Ana Pastor after citing some of the changes that did occur during the World Cup. A somewhat curious ‘strategy’. Given such changes in versions (with their consequent mess) and after listening to the interview again, below, the contradictions in which Luis Rubiales fell and that ended up proving ‘Las 15’ right.

“Another cook. And that vegans have more food”

Throughout the conflict, the RFEF based its defense on discrediting the players, downplaying their demands and reducing the problem to the continuity or not of the national coach at that time, Jorge Vilda. “The footballers who have submitted their resignation will only return to the discipline of the national team in the future if they accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness.”, they stated in that statement of September 22, 2022 in response to the emails from the 15 internationals. Some emails that reported her resignation from the National Team until profound changes occurred within the federative entity in reference to its way of treating women’s football.

Of the three arguments cited at the beginning of the previous paragraph, there was one that especially resonated: everything was fine, no changes were needed. It is precisely that point that serves as the starting point for Ana Pastor’s topic, which dates back to the days after the Euro 2022 Championship, when the ‘Las 15’ conflict broke out. “For a long time, there were people, not everyone, who considered the National Team players, before winning the world championship, to be ‘little girls’ because they were complaining about certain things. Did those complaints make sense?” questions Ana Pastor. “When I arrived, there were 40,000 licenses in women’s football. When I left, more than 100,000. When I arrived, 2.7 million euros were dedicated to women’s football. When I left, 27. Ten times more. When I arrived, There are no salaried coaches in the federation and we hire salaried teams, doctors, cooks,” boasts the former president of the RFEF.

After ‘saving’ the first blow, Luis Rubiales soon falls into his first contradiction when pointing out the first change that occurred in the World Cup – when, supposedly, “they had not represented anything” -. It happens when he talks about his first day at the World Cup. “When I arrive, which I arrive on the first day, just before starting the game, I see that there is only one cook. I immediately say: ‘Another cook.’ And the vegans should have more food,” she remembers. One of the most repeated complaints by the internationals referred to the staff that surrounded them, a structure that they did not consider completely professional. It is worth remembering that for the World Cup the RFEF signed a nutritionist (and one more physio)… because – until then – there were none.

As his speech progresses, more contradictions. “When the captains come and tell me: ‘We want to be close to what they give to the English women so that our families can go there.’ How much do they give the English women? 10,000 pounds, which is 11,000 euros. Well, here you have €15,000 per person,” he points out proudly. In the World Cup, it was the first time that the RFEF covered the travel expenses of family members, something that did not happen in the Euro 2022 Championship or in the 2019 World Cup. In addition, the conditions of the The internationals’ trips also varied compared to previous appointments, another reason for the soccer players’ complaints. A fact that, although Luis Rubiales never acknowledged publicly, nor was it discussed in El Objective, he did admit it in several informal talks with journalists during the world event.

But there is more. A response that ends up destroying the speech that assured that the changes that the footballers demanded were unnecessary. During one of his interventions, Ana Pastor reproaches Luis Rubiales that he is always talking about the RFEF, Jorge Vilda, etc., as the main people responsible for the title of world champions and what part of the merit he gives to the players. “A lot of merit. They, 90% or 99%,” she says without hesitation. And then add: “Second question: What have the rest of us done? Carry out the most complete expedition of the entire World Cup. Our merit is to give it more than any federation in the world.”

Finally, he boasts of being one of the staff and of arriving at the World Cup on the first day. “I was in all the training sessions, I was practically one more, if we had to pick up balls, one more,” he stated. A circumstance that those of us who were there can credit. And a fact that responds to other complaints from the soccer players, who asked him for more involvement and to travel with them, as was the case with the men’s team. Never, until that moment, had he been so involved and committed to them. A circumstance that collides with that of the last Euro Cup, in which Luis Rubiales appeared in the matches, but did not accompany the National Team in the concentration permanently.

2024-04-04 12:28:59
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