In a recent controversy that’s upending Spanish soccer, Luis Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, gave a kiss to women’s World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso. Amid the uproar, FIFA has since suspended Rubiales for 90 days while it investigates the incident.
While Rubiales contends that the kiss was mutual, Hermoso has told a different story. She, along with the entire women’s World Cup-winning team, has boycotted play until Rubiales steps down as president. In a statement on X, previously known as Twitter, Hermoso said she felt “vulnerable” and described the act as “impulse-driven, sexist out of place act without any consent.”
“I want to clarify, as you can see in the images, that at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me,” Hermoso said. “I won’t tolerate that my word is called into question, and even less so that words are invented which I didn’t say.”
Amazingly, in our era of #MeToo, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has sided with Rubiales, hinting at potential legal actions against Hermoso. This stance has intensified after the Federation publicly alleged that Hermoso has been lying about the incident. Supporting their claim, the Federation referred to photographs as evidence, asserting that the images back Rubiales’ version of the story.
The dispute has taken away from the Spanish soccer team’s World Cup victory. In a significant move, 11 members from Spain’s women’s national soccer program, including key coaching staff, have resigned in protest. Their joint statement condemned Rubiales’ “unacceptable attitudes and statements.”
However, the women’s national team head coach, Jorge Vilda, remains in his position. In contrast, Luis de la Fuente, the men’s national team head coach, expressed his disappointment in Rubiales’ actions, emphasizing that they were not suitable for a representative of Spanish soccer.
“The events that have taken place since Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in its history and to this day have been a real nonsense and have generated an unprecedented situation, tarnishing a well-deserved victory for our players and our country,” Vilda said in an interview with Spain’s EFE.
Rubiales, for his part, has acknowledged regret in the aftermath but has maintained his stance on the mutual nature of the kiss. Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, described the gesture as “unacceptable,” suggesting that an apology alone wouldn’t be enough.
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