‘My ears bleed’: Spain football chief Rubiales slammed for unsolicited kiss

Spanish footballer Hermoso rejects federation chief’s claim that she consent to the kiss at the World Cup medals ceremony.

Spanish football player Jenni Hermoso has said that “in no moment” did she consent to a kiss on the lips by the country’s football chief Luis Rubiales.

Hermoso issued a statement through her union on Friday, hours after Rubiales claimed in an emergency meeting of the Spanish football federation that the kiss was consensual.

Facing his possible removal from office, Rubiales refused to step down despite the uproar he caused with the kiss, which happened during a medals ceremony last Sunday after the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney, Australia.

The 46-year-old Rubiales, who was also chastised for grabbing his crotch after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England, is under immense pressure to leave his post.

“I won’t resign,” Luis Rubiales declared four times in quick succession at the meeting.

The kiss marred the title celebrations in front of a global audience, and criticism has steadily mounted.

“I felt vulnerable and a victim of an assault, an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part. Simply, I was not respected,” said Hermoso in a statement on social media.

Spain’s acting prime minister, players unions, and players from both Spain’s women’s and men’s teams have said he must go.

He remained defiant Friday, claiming before the federation’s assembly that the kiss was “mutual and with the consent” of Hermoso and that he is the victim of a witch-hunt by “false feminists”.

He was applauded by the overwhelming male assembly.

While Rubiales held his ground, federation Vice President Rafael del Amo, who had been in charge of women’s football, announced that he was resigning, followed by at least two other federation members. Del Amo had urged Rubiales to also resign.

Among those supporting Rubiales were women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda and men’s national team coach Luis de la Fuente.

“My ears bleed,” former Spain goalkeeper David de Gea.

The 2010 world champion Iker Casillas said, “We should have spent these five days talking about our girls! To be proud of a title we
didn’t have in women’s football, but…”

World Cup winner Alexia Putellas tweeted that the situation was “unacceptable” and that she stood by her teammate Hermoso, while her
Barcelona team said the incident was “deplorable”.

“It appears that the explanation given the president of the Federation, Mr Rubiales, has been sufficient for the members present at the Assembly who have the authority to confirm him in his position.

“FC Barcelona, however, wishes to make clear that it considers totally improper and inappropriate the RFEF president’s behaviour
during the celebrations for the World Cup victory,” the club said in a statement.

Best player of the women’s World Cup, Aitana Bonmati, said, “There are limits that can be crossed and this one can’t be tolerated.”

Spain forward Borja Iglesias, who was most recently called up for the national team in March said he was “sad and disappointed” and that he
would not “return to the national team until things change and this type of behaviour is punished”.

American star player Alex Morgan said on X, “I’m disgusted by the public actions of Luis Rubiales. I stand by Jenni Hermoso and the
Spanish players. Winning a World Cup should be one of the best moments in these players’ lives but instead it’s overshadowed by
assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation.”

Patri Guijarro, who last September was among 15 players who said they were temporarily resigning from the national team due to their
dissatisfaction with coach Jorge Vilda, said that it was “unfortunate that this point had to be reached to believe that the complaints from months ago were real.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies