Jenni Hermoso, the player of the Spanish team who was forcibly kissed by the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, during the celebration for the Australia 2023 World Cup champion title, broke the silence this Wednesday and asked that the leader be punished with “exemplary measures.”
“My union FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defend my interests and be the interlocutors on this matter“said the athlete through a statement released by the Association of Professional Soccer Players FUTPRO.
The controversy occurred during the awarding of medals to the Spanish soccer players, when the RFEF executive gave hugs to the athletes. When it was Hermoso’s turn, Rubiales He grabbed her head with both hands and kissed her on the mouth without her consent.
The fact has caused indignation and repudiation due to the reprehensible conduct on the part of the federative authority.
In the text, the union that represents Hermoso asks the RFEF to “implement the necessary protocols” to sanction Rubiales’ conduct, “watch over the rights” of the players and “adopt exemplary measures.” In addition, he considers “it is essential” that the team, the current world champion, “is always represented by figures who project values of equality and respect in all areas.”
The union also urges the Higher Sports Council (CSD) so that, “within its powers, it supports and actively promotes the prevention and intervention against sexual harassment or abusemachismo and sexism”.
“From the union we are working so that acts like the ones we have seen never go unpunished, are sanctioned and the pertinent measures are adopted to protect the soccer players of actions that we believe are unacceptable,” they add.
In another statement, FUTPRO reported that next Monday they will meet with the acting second vice president of the Government and Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Diaz, so that Rubiales’ acts are “duly sanctioned.”
Rubiales tarnished the image of Spain and the World Champions, at an international level more is said about him than about sporting success. They tried to stop the scandal by deleting videos and using fake press releases. I make a thread with the data of the media and digital impact. pic.twitter.com/5IJGNFg7oH
— Julian Macias Tovar (@JulianMaciasT) August 22, 2023
The inappropriate conduct of Rubiales, which under Spanish law could be classified as sexual assaultput his behavior in focus and other images of the same day began to appear immediately, such as when he grabbed his genitals in the box as a sign of victory, while he was next to Queen Letizia and her daughter Sofia, a minor.
Although what happened did not go unnoticed at any time, at first the media downplayed it, describing the gesture as the result of a moment of euphoria.
This discourse began to change when the first weighty criticisms from the Minister of EqualityIrene Montero, who on Sunday maintained that a kiss without consent was “a form of sexual violence” and that women suffer it “on a daily basis and up to now invisible.”
Similarly, the Minister of Culture, Miquel Iceta, in statements to Radio Nacional de Espana, also reacted and asked Rubiales to explain a gesture that he called “unacceptable.”
The criticism was joined by the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, who expressed that there is still “a long way to go in terms of equality and respect.”
Sanchez described the forced kiss as an “unacceptable gesture” and said that the apology offered was not “sufficient” nor “adequate”, for which reason he considered that Rubiales should “continue taking steps” to redeem himself.
Rubiales calls criticism “bullshit”
The first reaction of Rubiales was to call “idiots”, stupid” and “ass idiots”among other disqualifying words, to those who criticized their actions, arguing that they were not “for bullshit”.
However, as the controversy grew, the manager was forced to post a video apologizing. In parallel, the RFEF sent a statement to EFE, echoed by all the country’s media, which included some alleged statements by Hermoso, alleging that the forced kiss had “been a totally spontaneous mutual gesture for the immense joy of winning a World Cup”.
In that text, the RFEF assured that Hermoso would have said: “The president and I have a great relationship, his behavior with all of us has been ten and it was a natural gesture of affection and appreciation. A gesture of friendship and gratitude cannot be overturned, we have won a World Cup and we are not going to deviate from what is important”.
However, on Tuesday, Relevo reported that during the flight that departed from Sydney, Rubiales tried to convince Hermoso to appear with him in the video of apologies, something to which the player refused. After that, it was Jorge Vilda, the national coach, who would have approached the player’s family up to three times for the same purpose, but without success.
The Relevo media warned that the statements released by the RFEF they were not beautiful, but would have been written by their communication department. To date, the only words spoken by the athlete are: “I didn’t like it. But what do I do?”collected in a direct on their social networks during the celebration in the locker room in Sydney.
In the midst of the controversy with Rubiales, the person in charge of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Josep Borrell, fueled the conflict with statements branded as paternalistic and macho: “Our women they are learning to play soccer as well as men, and that’s good news,” he said today.
The sports world speaks
The Association of Professional Soccer Players (AFE) demanded in a statement to apply the sports law: “What happened with Jennifer Hermoso when she found herself in a clear vulnerability to a person who has a position of power over her when initiating a close-up or performing a physical gesture”.
The AFE requests that the law be applied if Rubiales does not resign, and recalls that the Protocol for action against sexual violence of the Higher Sports Council (CDS) includes kissing by force in its point 5, “classifying it as unacceptable conduct that will lead to immediate consequences.”
Miguel Galan, president of the National Center for Soccer Coaches (Cenafe) filed the first complaint against Rubiales before the CDS for breach of the sports law. “He was a sexist and intolerable act that threatens the sexual freedom of the soccer player Jennifer Hermoso”, stated to public television.
FASFE, an entity made up of shareholder and fan associations, clubs and individual fans, also published a release titled “Luis Rubiales must resign” and indicate that “the conduct of the top leader” of Spanish football is intolerable and that “his obscene gestures in the box at the end of the game constitute improper conduct for a leader, which gives a pitiful picture.”
In addition, the president of the Superior Sports Center, Victor Franco, reported that he expects to receive the report on the file opened within the RFEF and announced that if the organization “does not make decisions”, it will be his entity that will take action, which could include submitting the matter to the Administrative Court of Sports (TAD), the last administrative instance to ensure all matters of sports law and the only one that would have powers to remove Rubiales.
Background of Rubiales
The problems and complaints about abuses in the Spanish women’s soccer team come from afar.
One of the turning points occurred in 2022, when 15 players sent an email to the Federation to denounce irregularities by the national coach Jorge Vilda, which affected their health and that they were not fit to play.
At that time, Rubiales’ response was to support Vilda with everything and label the soccer players as “capricious”.
The pressure of the athletes has achieved some improvements. In this World Cup, the team was able to count on a nutritionist for the first time and had the opportunity to fly on charter flights, stay in good quality hotels and have a reconciliation plan that has allowed them, among other things, to stay close to their children during the two months that the tournament lasted.
Eight years earlier, at the 2015 World Cup, the first in which the Spanish team participated, 23 footballers signed a letter complaining about their conditions.
At that time, criticism was directed at another coach, Ignacio Quereda, who spent two decades in charge. According to what he learned years later, the coach maintained macho behaviors and vexatious attitudes towards athletes.
Until 2014, women’s football in Spain was not professional and it was not until 2020 when they had their first collective agreement. It cost a long negotiation and a strike, with which it was possible to establish a minimum salary of 16,000 euros per year and a maximum partiality of 75% of the day.