Barcelona defender Maria Leon, more commonly known as Mapi, is one of the best central defenders in the game. Recently named in the FIFA Best XI, the chances are she won’t be going to the upcoming women’s World Cup, as the dispute with the federation rumbles on.
Speaking to MD in a longer interview, Leon outlined the fact Barcelona were looking forward to another assault on the Champions League, despite their surprise Copa del Rey defeat this year.
She was also asked what it was like to be chosen as the face of Barcelona’s 8M campaign – international women’s day.
“It means a lot. In the end it was something very important and that they choose you for that, it means that you are a reference and it makes me proud of myself. We fight every day for that, one way or another, but it’s what we want.”
Por todas nosotras. #8M #LilaBarça pic.twitter.com/11NZF1wbeP
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) March 8, 2023
Before the conversation inevitably swung round to the national team, and her continued absence from the Spain squad.
“100% no, because you never know what you can change or what you can’t change.”
Last summer 15 players renounced their presence after penning a letter to the RFEF demanding change about the way the women’s team was being run. Many believe this included changes to manager Jorge Vilda – but the Spanish Federation stood by their manager, and a number of players remain unavailable.
After Corinne Diacre was sacked as France manager following complaints from the squad, Leon was asked if she could see any changes ahead in Spain.
“I don’t know, I don’t know, in the end everyone is free to decide what they want to do, how they want to go… I am a person with very clear ideas and I am quite stubborn. If I believe something, if I think that something is not right or that we were not getting our maximum performance, and that there are things that can be changed…”
“It is one thing if we have been doing this for a week and you want to demand, but when we have been playing for years and, now I don’t want to compare but I am at Barca and I am very happy at the level of everything. You don’t want to compare but in the end you compare and obviously there are many things that can be improved. In the end, pfff, I have gone to the European Championships and the World Cup and in the end you have a stress in which you have the feeling that the team is not getting the most out of itself, and you feel bad as a result. But hey, you say, come on, we’re going to get it out, and in the end we don’t because it doesn’t all depend on us.”
“There are many things that influence it, even I don’t know, there is something that makes you anxious, or you are not comfortable… If you are uncomfortable at work, you will not give your maximum performance, it is not that you do not want to, it is that there is things that you cannot… And I think there are some things that have to be changed and if they are not changed, it will not go away. I mean, I want to go, I do want to go.”
“Does it bother me if I don’t go in the end? It’s going to piss me off, of course it’s going to piss me off a lot because it’s a great opportunity. It’s a World Cup. It’s a World Cup! You saw it and the World Cup was for boys, and you thought ‘I want to be there’ but there are some things that are values that I have, and beliefs, and they come first.”