In a surprising turn of events, Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish soccer federation, has announced his resignation. This decision comes mere days after a controversial incident during the World Cup final, where Rubiales was seen kissing Spanish midfielder Jenni Hermoso. This move follows widespread backlash and an ongoing investigation by FIFA into Rubiales’ actions.
The incident occurred right after Spain emerged victorious in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, clinching the championship title. Luis Rubiales, elected president of the Spanish soccer federation in 2018, was present as part of the presentation party at Sydney’s Stadium Australia. As Spain celebrated their triumph with jubilation, Rubiales approached Jenni Hermoso on the podium. The ensuing scene was captured on camera as Rubiales, aged 45, embraced Hermoso, 33, holding her head with both hands and kissing her lips.
The incident drew swift and severe criticism from various quarters. Irene Montero, Spain’s government minister for equality, condemned the act, describing it as “a form of sexual violence women suffer daily.” The incident sparked a wave of demands for Rubiales’ resignation, with prominent figures like Spanish second deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz joining the chorus.
Rubiales, initially defensive about the incident, shifted his stance and issued an apology the following day. However, this did little to quell the mounting pressure for his resignation. The apology came after Rubiales had previously dismissed any negative interpretation of the kiss, labeling those who saw it differently as “idiots and stupid people.”
Hermoso’s reaction to the incident added to the complexity of the situation. In an Instagram Live broadcast shortly after the match, she expressed her discomfort with the kiss. However, a subsequent statement attributed to Hermoso, released by the Royal Spanish Football Federation, contradicted her earlier sentiment. The report claimed the kiss was a “spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy winning a World Cup brings.” This statement was later disputed, suggesting Hermoso may not have directly endorsed those words.
Amid the controversy, Jennifer Hermoso, the Women’s World Cup winner, has taken a definitive stand. She has communicated her intention to take action against Luis Rubiales and has enlisted the support of FUTPRO, her union, and her agency, TMJ. In a statement issued through FUTPRO, Hermoso emphasized the need to ensure that such acts do not go unpunished. The union criticized Rubiales’ behavior and pledged to work towards implementing appropriate sanctions and measures to protect players from unacceptable actions.
FUTPRO also called upon the Royal Spanish Football Federation to establish stringent protocols and safeguard players’ rights. They stressed the importance of having representatives who uphold values of equality and respect, particularly in the context of the national team. The union’s statement echoed the sentiment that progress in the fight for equality is vital and that female players have played a pivotal role in bringing this issue to the forefront.
In the wake of this incident, the soccer world grapples with questions about appropriate behavior, gender equality, and the responsibilities of those in positions of power. The resignation of Luis Rubiales marks a significant moment in the ongoing conversation about respect, consent, and the standards expected from sports administrators. As the soccer community reflects on this incident, it’s clear that there is a collective call for a more inclusive and respectful environment within the sport.