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Hermoso left out of Spain squad to 'protect' player

Jenni Hermoso has been left out of Spain Women's first squad since the World Cup final kiss row which ended with Luis Rubiales' resignation.

Hermoso was kissed on the lips by the then Spanish FA (RFEF) president during the celebrations after beating England 1-0 on August 26, and went on strike alongside all of her World Cup-winning team-mates in protest.

Rubiales, who was already under suspension by FIFA, finally resigned his post on September 10, days after controversial Spain head coach Jorge Vilda was also sacked by interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha. He was given a restraining order banning him from going within 200m of Hermoso on Friday.

New head coach Montserrat Tome told reporters she had chosen to omit Hermoso from her first squad for her own benefit after almost a month of intense public scrutiny, but suggested she would return to the team in future.

"We stand with Jenni," she said. "We believe that the best way to protect her is like this, but we are counting on Jenni."

Last Friday, 21 of the 23 players involved in the tournament - including Hermoso - demanded further change in the RFEF, but did not specify whether they would continue to remain on strike.

"The changes made are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women's football and where we can maximise our potential," they wrote.

Tome, who had previously served as Vilda's assistant, had been due to name her first squad for the upcoming Nations League double header with Sweden and Switzerland that same day.

She was forced to delay that announcement until Monday after the RFEF said Spain's players had rejected their attempts to convince them to return to the team at the time.

Now, 15 of the World Cup-winning squad have now been called up, with Hermoso missing as well as captain Ivana Andres, Irene Guerrero, Mariona Caldentey, Laia Codina, Alba Redondo, Rocio Galvez and Claudia Zornoza.

"It's the start of a new phase, the clock is ticking," said Tome announcing her first squad. "There is nothing behind us and we really want to connect with these players."

Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro, two players who boycotted playing for the national side in protest against Vilda's methods in 2022, have also received their first call-ups since going on strike.

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