Nations League champions, wonderful normality | Soccer | Sports

Nations League Final. A tournament with little history and few memories in the retina. If anything, the photo of Spain under construction by Luis de la Fuente, who won it last summer. Against the odds, we would say. The last of its three editions (only one for women) has been won, again, by Spain. But the journey of this team that Montse Tomé now directs is very different from that one. Neglected for decades, Spanish footballers found themselves faced with many closed doors, denial and disinterest along the way. Until a generation without complexes warned that the conviction that football is a man's thing was nothing more than a fallacy. There are those who continue to defend that their game is not interesting. They were not in La Cartuja. They didn't even turn on the TV. This indoor soccer has another title on its record.

Spain is champion. Again. She beat physics France, unable to even tickle Cata Coll. She did it in a stadium full of Spanish flags. Before 32,657 spectators, record attendance for a match of the women's national team. La Cartuja shouted it, danced it, vibrated it. In communion with a team that makes history. Pioneers, they call them. They are generating memories for future generations, those who already admire Aitana, Ballon d'Or, MVP again and goalscorer in Seville, like the omnipresent Mariona; Paredes, the captain, the leader, a colossus in defense; Athenea, pure duster in the band; to Salma, a hammer for the French defense no matter how much the goal was resisted; Olga Carmona, a local idol, whose honors come from scoring a World Cup goal; and Vicky López, the future.

The public, thousands of children in the stands, sang “champions, champions.” And the 25 Spanish soccer players jumped in chorus in the center of the field. Absolut happiness. Hugs and smiles. It was difficult to imagine it just a few months ago, when a president barricaded himself in his armchair shouting “I'm not going to resign” and the team, as a whole, refused to put on the national team shirt again until they saw an essentially sexist structure crumble. , unable to capitalize on unprecedented success. The noise has been fading. And the federation has been changing. Slow, but sure steps.

In the center of the photo, Irene Paredes, who this time, having recovered the bracelet, was able to lift the trophy. To the right of her, Alexia; to the left of her, Jenni. The dinosaurs have won more than a title. “We have been through many very difficult moments. Being able to celebrate this together now makes us very excited,” said the Basque headquarters.

“It is incredible what we have achieved. It seems easy, but this team continues with tremendous ambition. This team has no roof, now we are going for the Games,” Aitana said at the end of the game. “We always want more, it's time to enjoy,” added Tomé. Because the value of victory is also football. And she knows it: “France was a great rival that we had not managed to beat. We have managed to give her very few opportunities,” added the coach, who says she enjoys everyday life: “I feel eager and excited. The players have the ability and we will continue to get the most out of them.” She's not the only one looking to the future. So did Mariona, who was looking, like everyone else, to Paris, where they will pursue the triple crown in less than a year: “We are here to stay, we are fighting to win more titles.”

With football and trophies the wounds heal. With the friction, the talks, the public exhibition. Six months have passed since the Spanish team was proclaimed world champion in Sydney. Six months since that success began to fade, supported by demands; These are sponsored by the focus that champions deserve, by the strength of feminism, too. Half a year to chew through criticism and anxiety.

Today we know, because they have begun to explain it, that it hurt Jenni Hermoso (and continues to hurt) that she was not in the first call of the new coach, Montse Tomé, in the first games of this Nations League; We know that Athenea del Castillo considered that defending her partner did not involve thinking the same as the other 24 soccer players who have traveled to Seville (and many others who have watched the game from the stands or the couch); also that Alexia Putellas wanted to be in this event from start to finish, to train with her colleagues even if she was not yet medically discharged after the knee injury, to be there even if she did not play for a minute, to be in the photo and expand her record of achievements. . She doesn't want to miss it. He does not want to disconnect from this team after having stood up when things were going badly.

Today we understand that they all suffered that drink, but that they continued fighting for the dream they had as children, to wear the La Roja shirt, which weighs a little more because of that star on their chest that they have worn since the summer. We understand that they are not one, but they are one. And in order to grow, it has been good for Spanish football to have the waters go down rough for a few months. The controversy surrounding Rubiales' kiss with Hermoso put the focus on the requests of these soccer players who once again feel the purest happiness, the one that was so ephemeral in Sydney. At the end of the day, they just wanted to play soccer. And compete. In conditions.

They managed to be heard. And today, even though we are aware of the path that remains to be taken—that their matches are well promoted and ticket sales are promoted (between €15 and €30 for this final), that their competitions are better organized and that the venue is not changed. a fast-paced semifinal, the federation believing that football is neither male nor female, among many other things to polish—they only pursue normality. Wonderful normality. Think only about the ball. That is the success achieved in Seville. The journey has been useful for something. They will continue to pay with their football. Improvements will continue to be required from the federation. And the rest of us can only enjoy and applaud.

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