Sarina Wiegman always keeps it classy, (as we all aspire to do)

The UEFA coach of the year used her moment on stage to celebrate the Spanish players who defeated her in the World Cup final.

Sarina Wiegman always keeps it classy, (as we all aspire to do)
Sarina Wiegman receiving her UEFA Coach of the Year award on Thursday | Via England FA

“This team deserves to be celebrated and deserves to be listened to, and I'm going to give them again a big applause and I hope you will join me.”

It was a mic-drop moment. Only Sarina Wiegman wasn’t holding a mic. Instead, she cradled the UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year award.

Still, the silverware was placed gently and humbly at her feet on the stage at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. Then, the Dutchwoman clapped her hands and led a rapturous round of applause for the 23 players who got the better of her and England in Sydney 11 days ago.

The England manager beat out FC Barcelona manager Jonatan Giráldez and Spain’s Jorge Vilda (lol) to the grand prize. In addition to seven other esteemed women’s club and international coaches.

Beyond her impeccable exploits as a coach, Wiegman has made her name for herself as a calm, straight-talking, and classy individual. It should have come as no surprise to anyone that she would use her moment to pay her respects to someone else. In this case, the Spain players.

After all, that’s what we have mostly been denied in the hectic 11 days since Spain won the World Cup. A chance to truly applaud and celebrate the Spanish players.

“I'm very honored…but it also feels a little different,” Wiegman said, live on stage on Thursday after she received her award.

“We all know the issues around the Spanish team, and it really hurts me as a coach as a mother of two daughters, as a wife, and as a human being.

“It shows we just talked about how the game has grown so much, but there's also still a long way to go in women's football and in society and I would like to dedicate this award to the Spanish team. The team that played in the World Cup such great football that everyone enjoyed.”

The headlines and discourse have been (understandably) consumed with Spanish football president Luis Rubiales’ behavior, as well as the pervasive ‘boys club’ culture, the ‘Machista’, and toxicity that exists within the Spanish football federation.

For decades there have been complaints within Spanish football over how they have handled their women’s team.

In 2015, former coach Ignacio Quereda was forced to resign after players led a protest over his inappropriate behavior. Then in 2022, there was the infamous ‘Las 15’ protest that saw many of the 2023 World Cup winners demand change from the federation over ‘working conditions’ but no personnel moves came about.

READ MORE: Boquete: Rubiales’ speech was embarrassing and shameful. That’s when we said: ‘It’s over’

What happened after the World Cup final wasn’t surprising. It was just shocking that it was so public. For the players, it was sickeningly familiar. Jenni Hermoso herself said it best this week by saying Rubiales' assault on her was just the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.

The system is broken because the system has done everything in its power to protect and maintain Rubiales. At its most basic level, the Spanish football federation is not fit for purpose. And it is certainly not adequately doing the best for its players.

READ MORE: A revolution 40 years in the making: how the Spanish women’s team fought back

And that’s what Wiegman was getting at on Thursday.

Yes, what is best for the players is change. Heads must roll. The rot within the Spanish federation from the top to the bottom has to be rooted out. And the victims should have a voice and be given agency. The news, and there’s been a lot of news, must be reported on.

But also yes to the fact that these players have been somewhat denied celebrating the biggest achievement of their careers. A World Cup win doesn’t come around very often, if ever again.

It has, at times, felt like the luminescence of what Spain managed to achieve in Australia and New Zealand has been significantly dimmed. Of all the things Rubiales and the federation have already cost the Spain players, being able to enjoy their World Cup win shouldn’t be added to the list.

At the end of the day, the 14 Spanish players who played in the World Cup final outplayed England. They need their flowers.

First in line at the florist was the person on the wrong side of that 1-0 result. The coach who couldn’t find a way past that team. It takes a strong and humble person to do so.

I can’t imagine how hard it was for Wiegman to bite her tongue throughout the build-up to the World Cup final to not get involved in the discourse surrounding the smarmy Spanish head coach Jorge Vilda, who sources leaked is set to be dismissed this week. A coach who has consistently applauded Rubiales both literally and figuratively.

But Wiegman doesn’t do petty. She remains classy. Composed. And tries to shine a light on those that need it more. Especially when the spotlight has for so long lingered on the wrong people.

People love a bad news story. And the coverage of Rubiales’ chaotic and toxic rule is undeniably a big story across the globe. I get it.

But please, I beg, also listen to Wiegman when she says let’s give these players their due. And when we say ‘these players’ that can even extend to the ones who weren’t there to lift the trophy.

In particular the likes of Maria ‘Mapi’ Leon and Patri Guijarro who continued the protest and turned down call ups to the 2023 World Cup squad. A sacrifice bigger than them. And one that was worthy.

It’s time to celebrate the players. All the players. And try to be as gracious as Wiegman in our own lives too.