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#SeAcabó: Spain defeats the 3rd place World Cup team, despite having issues within

The Spanish National Football team was able to set aside their federation’s issues this Friday as they defeated the Swedish national team 3-2 in the final minute of their first match in the UEFA Women’s Nations League.

A game that was meant to celebrate their FIFA World Cup win turned into a fight for their rights against their own federation.

The much-anticipated match was just as intense as the lead-up to it with the Spanish team posing for a team photo with the phrase “Se Acabó,” meaning it’s over, written on tape wrapped around their wrists. The Swedish national team soon joined them in holding a banner that read “#Seacabó, Our fight is the global fight.”

Credit: Skysports

With six FC Barcelona players starting for Spain, they were able to connect as if they never stopped practicing as a team. However, it wasn’t enough to stop the Swedes from heading it in the back of the net in the 23rd minute.

Magdelina Eriksson was left wide open on a corner from Kosovare Asslani, redirecting it into the back corner past the Spanish defense. Gamla Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden erupted as the Sweden national team took the lead early in the first half.

It wasn’t long before Spain responded with a goal in the 37th minute from Athenea del Castillo.

In what should have been a simple save for the World Cup standout goalkeeper, Zećira Mušović, the ball took a wrong bounce as she dove toward the ground, going straight over her and into the back of the net. 

The possession-hungry Spanish team came into the second half with a fiery attitude, pressing high and taking more chances on goal. The second-string goalkeeper for Chelsea continued to showcase her talent and skills, holding strong in the back for Sweden until the 77th minute.

The pass from Teresa Abelleira found Eva Navarro on the right side at the top of the 18-yard box as she cut in and struck the ball into the opposite upper 90, past Mušović.

Sweden responded four minutes later with a counter-attack. Lina Hurtig, the Swedish player who broke the hearts of many Americans with her controversial penalty kick in the World Cup, found the back of the net, equalizing the game.

Just as everyone thought the referee was blowing the whistle to conclude the game, Amanda Ilested drew a late foul against Mariona Caldentey in the box, resulting in a penalty kick and a red card. 

Caldentey buried the penalty in the lower left corner, inching past Mušović, giving Spain the win in the final seconds.

As Sweden continues to lose to Spain in the final minutes, this isn’t the first time the two teams have faced each other and given us a high-intensity match.

The two last faced each other just over a month ago in the World Cup Semi-finals with a scoreless game until the last ten minutes, where we saw the score line rise from zero across the board to Spain taking the win 2-1.

Following the victorious FIFA Women’s World Cup win, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) was under fire after former football federation president, Luis Rubiales, nonconsensually kissed Spanish player, Jenni Hermoso, on the biggest stage in the world. 

Off-field controversies loomed over the Spanish team leading up to this match as players and fans anxiously watched more issues unfold from the incident including 39 players saying they would refuse to play for the Spanish Federation until the Spanish Football Federation is restructured. This statement came after Rubiales resigned and head coach, Jorge Vilda, was sacked. 

RFEF excluded Hermoso from the roster for her protection despite including more than half of the 39 players who had originally opted not to be chosen for the upcoming UEFA Women’s Nations League camp.

A majority of the selected players have agreed to return to camp on Wednesday after a seven-hour meeting with the federation, the Spanish National Sports Council (CSD), and the player’s association, FUTPRO. The players succumbed only after the government made an agreement to make immediate changes within RFEF.

A pre-match press conference with World Cup Winners, Alexia Putellas and Irene Paredes, was held yesterday as they commented on the matter. 

“The other day, we didn’t want to come. We were forced, came in anger, but we agreed to have meetings. We decided to stay because we believed it was necessary for the agreements to be honored and for progress, not just for us but for the U-23s. If we weren’t here, they would have been called, passing a complex situation to those with less experience,” Paredes said.

The two further explained how the issue goes beyond sports, mentioning that what Hormoso went through should not be tolerated. 

“If this makes women see that it can be a guide in situations like our colleague went through, then it’s worth all we’ve endured, especially Jenni, who suffered the most.”

However, Patri Guijarro and Mapi León who were previously left off the World Cup roster for similar reasons, opted to leave the camp after being guaranteed that they would not receive sanctions for doing so.

Fans and players took to social media to express their frustration with RFEF and show their support for the Spanish women’s national team.

During his club’s pre-Europa League news conference against BK Häcken, Liverpool veteran and current Bayer Leverkusen manager, Xabi Alonso praised the Spain women’s national team for standing up.

“It’s an important issue. If that happens, it’s an international movement…What they are fighting for is good for football. But also for society and equality,” he continued, “My daughters will remember in the future what these women fought for. Everything that is happening at the moment can only be the first step. But it is an important step.”

As the Spanish team navigates these off-field issues, their journey in the UEFA Women’s Nations League continues to be closely watched by fans and players alike. 

While they may have come out on top against Sweden, Spain doesn’t have long to figure out their next steps for Tuesday’s upcoming game against Switzerland as they aim to join France in qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics this coming summer.
The allocation of broadcasting rights varies by country. Matches involving England, Wales, and Scotland will be broadcast on both BBC and ITV. Additionally, a limited number of games can be streamed on UEFA.tv.

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