After the kissing scandal at the Women’s World Cup, the government in Madrid negotiated a series of agreements with the Spanish football association RFEF to end the players’ strike. As the government announced on Wednesday, as a result, most Spanish national players agreed to return to the team and play upcoming games in the Nations League. However, two of the 23 players intended for this role decided against it.

The agreements would be written down and signed on Thursday, said Sports Secretary of State Victor Francos after the negotiations that lasted until the early morning. The RFEF promised immediate changes. According to Spanish media, this could be the departure of RFEF Secretary General Andreu Camps.

At the same time, Francos assured that the two players who refused to play in the Nations League games due to “personal discomfort” would not face any punitive measures. The State Secretary did not mention the names of the two players. A total of 19 national players went on strike because of grievances in the Spanish football association.

After the Spanish women’s national team’s World Cup victory in Sydney on August 20, the head of the Spanish Football Association RFEF, Luis Rubiales, held player Jennifer Hermoso’s head with both hands in the stadium and kissed her on the mouth. Rubiales’ behavior sparked outrage at home and abroad and a crisis in Spanish football. After initially refusing, he finally resigned as president of the Spanish Football Association.

The coach of the national football team was replaced by coach Montse Tomé. But the players continued their strike even after these consequences and demanded deeper reforms. On Friday, 39 players, including 21 of the 23 World Cup winners, said in a letter that the conditions for their return to the national team were not met.

On Monday, however, coach Tomé called together around 15 of the World Cup participants and other signatories of the declaration to play in the Nations League against Sweden and Switzerland. The tournament will determine qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. The first players arrived for training on Tuesday. Some justified this with fear of sanctions such as a multi-year suspension of their association license.

Hermoso was not named in the squad for the upcoming Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland because, according to Tomé, this was the “best way” to “protect them.” The top scorer reacted with incomprehension.

“To protect me from what? And from whom?” Hermoso asked in her statement, which she published on the online service X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday night. In it, she also accused the Spanish Football Association of wanting to “intimidate and threaten” the striking national players.