Pressure mounts on President – The latest on Rubiales ‘kiss’
Last weekend saw Spain’s Women become Champions of the world for the very first time.
It should have been a day to champion the progress of the Women’s game.
We should be celebrating the breaking of social boundaries and highlighting the record-breaking viewership of 22.8 million across Spain and England.
In a sporting context, we should be celebrating the wonderful Spanish who become the first nation since Japan (2011) to snatch football’s most coveted prize from the clutches of the imperious USWNT – who were the tournament’s big favourites, in search of a landmark “three-peat”.
“Should” is, unfortunately, the key word, here.
Instead, we’re left discussing matters that are far removed from football or record breaking statistics…
“I didn´t like it, eh! But what can I do?”
During the medal ceremony, Spanish FA President, Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed captain, ‘Jenni’ Hermoso on the lips. As seen in the clip above, Hermoso tries to move away several times.
But she is held by the President – giving the impression that the gesture is unwelcome.
Even though the pair apparently have a “close, working relationship”, one must remember that Rubiales is, fundamentally, Jenni Hermoso’s boss. The public nature of the kiss, along with Hermoso’s reluctance to accept the gesture makes for very uneasy viewing.
Hermoso, whilst filming a live stream on her Instagram (below) , was shown the clip and her reaction to it adds to the overarching, uncomfortable feeling of the situation:
“No me ha gustado, eh” ¿Pero, qué hago yo? – “I didn´t like it, eh! But what can I do?” Says the Skipper.
“… a celebratory peck between friends”
In the aftermath of the viral clip, Rubiales took to Spanish radio to defend his actions in an exclusive interview with Cope.
However, when asked about whether the ‘kiss’ was unprofessional or unwelcome, rather than apologise for how he acted, or simply remaining calm and succinct, Rubiales started on a rampant tirade:
“It’s just a celebratory peck between friends! Don’t dare ask me such idiotic questions. If there are d******** [accusing me of such things], let them carry on being d********!”
A defensive stance, to say the least.
A spontaneous, joyful gesture?
Unsurprisingly, the ‘kiss’ and subsequent defence of it received huge backlash. Not just from Spaniards, but people all over the world.
Taking a backseat from his previously fiery defence, Rubiales opted to film an apology video. Said video can be viewed here:
Frustratingly, the video feels absolutely insincere.
Rubiales even shifts the blame onto Hermoso. “There was no bad intentions from either party”, says the President.
Alongside the ‘apology’ video, the Spanish Football federation (RFEF) released a statement from Jenni Hermoso: “It was a completely spontaneous, joyful gesture. Birthed from the emotion that winning a World Cup brings to you. The President and I have a great relationship”
On the surface, even if not in a satisfactory manner, it seemed like the matter was settled.
However, a source close to Jenni Hermoso revealed that these comments were completely fabricated – as revealed in an article by Spanish publication Relevo.
A deliberate, and deplorable way to cover Rubiales’ back.
Another shocking revelation in the article is that Hermoso was asked to appear in the apology video – which she declined.
To Hermoso, the gesture was clearly not “spontaneous and joyful”
Not the first time
This is not the first time Rubiales has found his name in disgrace. Particularly when related to allegations of sexism and abuses of power.
Ramos also commented upon the ‘kiss’ situation earlier this week, stating: “It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’ve known him for years and I’ve suffered his actions also.”
Rubiales rode these allegations until they became cold.
On top of sexism allegations, Rubiales has faced other public scandals during his presidency.
Perhaps the most famous allegation came last year when audiotapes of a conversation between him and Gerard Piqué (at the time, still an active player in the association that Rubiales leads), leaked.
The audiotapes featured the two talking about the potential financial benefits of moving the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. A move which was subsequently made.
Critics said that this showed an apparent conflict of interest from Rubiales. Many also questioned as to why the pair were so friendly during the call – using the nicknames “Gerri” and “Rubi” in reference to each other.
Allegations of a variety of offences are a recurring theme throughout Rubiales’ career.
Calls for resignation
There is growing feeling in Spain that this may finally be the end of Luis Rubiales’ in his role at RFEF.
A variety of football managers and players have voiced their indignation towards his actions. Rafael Benítez, Carlo Ancelotti, Imanol Alguacil and Megan Rapinoe being perhaps the most high-profile.
Benítez stated that: “We’re all in agreement that the behaviour we have seen is wrong”
Whereas Megan Rapinoe attacked the “deep sexism and misogyny that runs through the Spanish FA”
This issue has transcended the world of sport, gaining attention on a state level in Spain.
Díaz exclaims that the “excuses” made by Rubiales in the aftermath of the event are “meaningless”, that “he has harassed and assaulted a woman” and adding the rousing statement: “let the law be fulfilled!”
Despite Rubiales avoiding punishment for a variety of previous scandals, this is the first time that his resignation has been called for on a governmental level.
Even current Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez spoke of the events (above) when making a presidential address to the nation:
“Our country has a long path to tread in terms of equality and the rights and respect between men and women. And the gesture that we saw was unacceptable… The apology from Rubiales is insufficient”
Last night, Jenni Hermoso publicly stated that her union, FUTPRO are currently investigating ways to “defend her interests” and are currently “in coordination” with Hermoso´s agency, TMJ, as to find ways to do so.
This morning FIFA announced that they are carrying out an investigation into Rubiales’s conduct. The official World footballing body also released the statement:
“The Fifa disciplinary committee informed Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish FA, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him based on the events that occurred during the final of the Fifa Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023”
This evening Cope have reported that Luis Rubiales will resign in the morning. Will the federation finally get the result that many have been waiting for?
In post since 2017, could Rubiales’ tenure finally be coming to an end?