Spain’s women’s football league has demanded that Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales be sacked for kissing star player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the country’s World Cup victory, describing his behaviour as “disgusting”.
Spanish football federation (RFEF) chief Rubiales, 46, has been heavily criticised for planting a kiss on Hermoso’s lips following her team’s 1-0 triumph over England in the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday.
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In a statement on Wednesday, the FUTPRO union said that Hermoso has called for “exemplary measures” to be taken against Rubiales.
“My union FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and have taken over as my interlocutors on this matter,” Hermoso is quoted as saying.
The union continued the statement by adding: “We are working so that the acts like the ones we witnessed don’t go unpunished, are sanctioned, and that pertinent measures are adopted to protect football players against actions that are unacceptable.”
The incident – which happened as Rubiales was presenting the players with their gold medals after they beat England 1-0 in the final on Sunday – sparked outrage within and outside Spain and many people, including government ministers, demanded his resignation.
FUTPRO will meet on Monday with Spain’s Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz to ensure the actions of Rubiales are “duly sanctioned”.
‘Unprecedented international disgrace’
Spain’s women’s football league, La Liga F, called for Rubiales to be dismissed and said it had lodged a complaint with the president of the National Sports Council (CSD) over his “very serious actions and behaviour”.
“For a boss to grab his employee by the head and kiss her on the mouth simply cannot be tolerated,” it said.
“The subsequent justifications are, as the prime minister described it, ‘inadequate.'”
“It’s not just about the kiss. Celebrating the triumph on the presidential balcony while holding his genitals next to the queen is unacceptable and disgusting.”
That criticism was a reference to another incident on Sunday evening, broadcast around the world, which appeared to show Rubiales grabbing his genitals with both hands to celebrate Spain’s victory.
“One of the greatest feats in the history of Spanish sport has been tainted by the embarrassing behaviour of the highest representative of Spanish football who, once again, and guided by his continuous and habitual desire for leadership, has revealed to not be up to the position he occupies,” the women’s league added.
“It’s an incident which has entered the history of world sport and, more seriously still, will forever be linked to our national women’s team,” said La Liga F who described it as a moment of “unprecedented international disgrace for the ‘Spain brand’, for Spanish sport and for women’s football in the world”.
‘Obliged to take additional measures’
Rubiales, who initially called his critics “idiots”, issued a video apology late on Monday, but it failed to quell the uproar.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Spanish government demanded transparency and urgent action from the football federation.
The RFEF on Tuesday called an emergency meeting for Friday and activated an internal investigation into the incident.
Victor Francos, Spain’s secretary of sport and president of the country’s sports council (CSD), said the council would take action if the RFEF did not – they can raise the case to Spain’s Sports Administrative Court.
“I imagine that what the responsible people will do is talk to the two parties involved and issue a report,” Francos told radio station Cadena Ser.
“I have personally told the federation this report has to be transparent and urgent, because, if it is not, obviously we are obliged to take the corresponding additional measures.”
"It was an act of sexual aggression".
La Liga TV presenter wants action over Rubiales/Jenni Hermoso kiss. pic.twitter.com/82oCjXI5Wc
— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) August 23, 2023
‘Deep level of misogyny and sexism’
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Tuesday that Rubiales’s apology for the kiss was insufficent.
American forward Megan Rapinoe, one of the world’s highest-profile women’s players, was scathing in an interview with The Atlantic on Tuesday.
“What kind of upside-down world are we in? On the biggest stage, where you should be celebrating, Jenni has to be physically assaulted by this guy,” said Rapinoe, adding that Rubiales’s behaviour at the final portrayed “a deep level of misogyny and sexism”.