By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (September 25th 2023
The Kiss and its Aftermath
Wales’ manager Gemma Grainger is midway through her four year-long contract. Her assignment is to qualify for a major tournament. The recent World Cup showed how far they have to travel on and off the pitch. World champions Spain’s achievement was against the odds –several boycotted the tournament, demanding that controversial coach Jorge Vilda received his marching orders, but RFEF boss Luis Rubiales was having none of it, even trying to extend Vilda’s contract.
Rubiales’ controversial kiss on the lips of star play Jennifer Hermoso unleashed a movement. Ucky in Iceland Women’s football largely united behind Hermoso who claimed the kiss was not consensual. The fallout was bigger than expected as Rubiales insisted he would not resign before being forced to go. Vilda was eventually sacked and the furore rumbled on. The players’ strike continued, demanding root and branch change and the new coach of Spain called up many of the boycotting players, but not Hermoso, apparently for her ‘own goo.d.’ Hermoso was livid.
The kiss was in danger of obscuring a successful World Cup, but women’s football wasn’t having it. Battles over respect that had rumbled on for years found an outlet as equal pay and other issues demanded to be heard.,
Grainger is in no doubt that her project requires success – qualification. She carefully observed tonight’s opponents, Denmark – a side she clearly rates highly after seeing them in the World Cup and a recent friendly against Germany which the Danes won 2-0. They are led by the world class former Chelsea star Pernille Harder who recently left London for Bavaria’s finest, Bayern München.
Gemma Grainger thinks Wales have the quality to deliver qualification from the top flight of the first Women’s Nations League. She feels that they were unlucky in Iceland, losing 1-0 despite creating more chances. She wants to see a performance and obtain a result before she will consider it a success.
But Denmark will be a tough test.