Spain ‘get to celebrate again’ as Nations League title follows World Cup controversy

Jenni Hermoso lifts the Nations League title  (REUTERS)
Jenni Hermoso lifts the Nations League title (REUTERS)

World Cup champions Spain have another title to celebrate after defeating France 2-0 to win the inaugural edition of the Women’s Nations League.

Spain’s celebrations after defeating England in the World Cup final last August were marred by Luis Rubiales, as the then-president of the Spanish football federation kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony.

The incident sparked global outrage and threatened to overshadow Spain’s victory, with Hermoso later appearing in court to testify against Rubiales after the former president was banned from all-football activity for three years.

But there were triumphant scenes in Seville on Wednesday as Spain beat France to claim a second international title in the space of six months, as goals from Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey earned a 2-0 win.

Spain played in front of a 32,657 fans at La Cartuja Stadium, in what was a record crowd for Spain’s women’s team in the country.

"Today we get to celebrate again. We deserve it," Hermoso said. "We try to enjoy ourselves but we also have the responsibility that there are so many people behind us who want to follow in our footsteps. We are so proud that there are so many girls who want to be champions in the future."

Bonmati, named the player of the match, volleyed in a low cross in the first half and Caldentey doubled the lead shortly after the break in a dominant performance by the hosts.

Hermoso kisses the Nations League trophy (REUTERS)
Hermoso kisses the Nations League trophy (REUTERS)
Spain won the first edition of the Women’s Nations League (REUTERS)
Spain won the first edition of the Women’s Nations League (REUTERS)

"Happy to win another title," Bonmati said. "It may seem that what we have achieved is easy, that we have an obligation to win everything, but this is not something easy. And here we are lifting another trophy."

Spain defeated the Netherlands 3-0 in last week’s semi-final, a result that also secured the team a place in the Paris Olympics. France was already qualified for the Olympics as the host country.

It was Spain’s first victory over France. Spain also holds the men’s Nations League title, having beaten Croatia in the final in June.

"We have a very good present and a very good future," said coach Montse Tomé, who replaced the World Cup winning manager Jorge Vilda after he resigned in the wake of the Rubiales scandal.

"I have a group with very experienced players and with new young players coming up. It’s a very positive mix. They have a winning mentality. France haven’t had a shot on goal and that’s also a credit to all of the players."