On August 20, at 2:02 p.m. (Spanish peninsular time), almost nine million Spaniards were glued to the screen to see the Spanish soccer team win the World Cup in Sydney, the second global title in the country’s history. Half an hour later, they watched the champions lift the cup and celebrate in style with Queen Letizia and Infanta Sofia on the field. In the time that passed from one moment to the next, the then president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, gave a non-consensual kiss to the player Jenni Hermoso, one of the veterans of the team. It happened while the senior officials of world and Spanish football handed out the medals to the champions, a scene that the cameras captured and broadcast live: it was seen in Spain and around the world.
In a moment of total euphoria, this forced kiss went almost unnoticed not only by the majority of the public, but even by the media. The match commentators did not say anything at the time and the episode was not mentioned in the interviews with the players and the coach immediately after the final whistle. Few had realized the significance of the gesture they had witnessed live, until the event jumped to the social network Twitter (now known as X), and the ball began to roll.
One of the very first tweets that included the cut of the broadcast where Rubiales could be seen grabbing Hermoso’s face with both hands to plant a kiss on his mouth was published at 2:38 p.m. that same day, a few minutes after the event. . “WTFRubiales giving Jennifer Hermoso a kiss on the mouth,” wrote Sevillian Antonio Velazquez in a post which has obtained almost a million views. This tweeter, who was closely following the final at home with his partner, remembers being upset from the beginning with Rubiales’ attitude towards the players. “Even before we got to kiss Hermoso, we were already commenting among ourselves that he seemed too confident towards the soccer players,” the user comments to this newspaper. “So when it was my turn to greet Hermoso, I didn’t miss the kiss. I remember the first thing I thought was that it couldn’t be. But we turned it back on TV and there it was.”
Velazquez recorded the scene he saw on the screen with his mobile phone and posted it on Twitter, where it was filmed for a couple of hours until FIFA removed the video for violating the broadcast rights of the event, which belonged to RTVE. The same thing happened to all the other publications that appeared on the platform in the following minutes, such as the tweet by sports journalist Claudya Carolina, posted at 3:11 p.m., which that Sunday alone reached almost one and a half million views. Both publications were shared by accounts with thousands of followers and even sports media. It was from that moment, from the social network, when everyone – those who watched the final live and also those who were not following the final – found out that the highest official in Spanish football had just given him a kiss. not consented to a subordinate.
“It is indisputable that networks have played a fundamental role in the Rubiales case,” acknowledges Asuncion Bernardez, professor of journalism in the master’s degree in Gender Studies at the Complutense University of Madrid. However, the professor insists on the convergence between old media—such as television, where images were disseminated—and modern media, which increasingly function as an amplifier of news. “It was the two powers together that made everything that happened later possible. This was seen live, and in many places around the world. The two factors have created a media turbulence that is impossible to stop,” explains the professor.
The outrage in a ‘hashtag’
And it was precisely on Twitter — the same place where many found out for the first time what had happened — where the indignation and condemnation of the former sports president’s gesture was most manifested. Rubiales remained among the first two positions of the trending topics in Spain until August 28, reaching peaks of 2,000,0000 tweets in some time slots. Furthermore, the other trending topics were all related to Rubiales, and the only one hashtag capable of taking first place from Rubiales was #SeAcabo, the two words together with which users began to show their support for Jenni Hermoso.
The origin is clear. It is August 25, at 2:34 p.m. Rubiales has just finished his speech at the extraordinary meeting of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), called to address the crisis that the scandal has opened in the organization. FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales, and the Government has advanced its intention to take the case to court. Even though the media had already given him up, the former president clings to the position, assures that he had Hermoso’s consent and repeats up to five times that he is not going to resign. It is then that the soccer player Alexia Putellas expresses her indignation on the social network through a tweet that gets to the point of the matter with seven words and a mention: “This is unacceptable. It’s over. With you partner @JenniHermoso.”
It took less than half an hour for Putellas’ words to become a hashtag viral that began to circulate on Twitter non-stop. #SeAcabo appears in the official statements released by the Hermoso union and in the banners of the women and men who demonstrate in the streets in the following days. It jumped to the international press and the comparison with #MeToo – which also began on the networks, with actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet inviting all women who had been sexually assaulted to use the hashtag— became inevitable, although the foundations of the two movements are different.
“The objective of Me Too, which we also had in Spain at the time, was to bring to light a whole series of extremely serious attacks, and therefore impossible to doubt,” emphasizes sociologist Amparo Lasen. “El Se Acabo is more focused on highlighting the small attacks that women suffer every day. All these practices that a part of society still does not recognize as problematic. Hence, in certain press and publications there has been talk of a peak, instead of a non-consensual kiss,” adds Lasen, who, however, recognizes that the response that the movement has had online seems to indicate progress.
In fact, unlike other media events of this type, Rubiales has not gained many defenders, including in the most active forums of the so-called manosphere. He hashtag # TodosSomosRubiales, the sexist response to #SeAcabo, barely has any publications, and has never been among the most used. “It seems that a kind of unanimity has been achieved in defense of Hermoso, it is evident that in this case the most sexist and anti-feminist cavern has not been launched,” Bernandez acknowledges. “There are people who may minimize the case, but it is difficult to find someone who publicly defends Rubiales on Twitter, because the matter is so obvious that there is no way to change the story.”
Beyond the sports world
Such has been the strength of the protest on networks, that it took three days for #SeAcabo to leave the sports world and appear in publications by women from different work fields who report having been victims of attacks. On August 28, journalist Sara Brito wrote on Facebook about her “#seacabo story,” in which she recounted the workplace mistreatment and abuse of power suffered in an editorial office at the beginning of her career. The story went viral the next day, when her friend Paola Corroto, also a journalist, released the captures of Brito’s publication on Twitter, where it reached two million views and hundreds of comments repeating the hashtag.
“The exchange of messages with #SeAcabo that were activated to support Jennifer Hermoso created communities of affection, support and sisterhood,” explains gender studies expert Maria Jose Camacho. “And the testimonies and shared emotions of many women have been made visible, which has given rise to new affective intensities that have been digitally mediated by the hashtag”.
2:30 p.m. (Spanish peninsular time)
Luis Rubiales kisses Jenni Hermoso without her consent during the medal ceremony in the World Cup final.
Source: EL PAIS