Luis Rubiales robbed Jenni Hermoso of the opportunity to properly celebrate her team’s World Cup win.
As Hermoso walked across the stage to receive her medal, the president of the Spanish Federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed her, a nonconsensual act that has been met with fierce disapproval and disgust towards Rubiales and a deafening rallying cry from largely female players and coaches eager to stand behind Hermoso.
Even the highly controversial head coach Jorge Vilda has condemned Rubiales’ actions, though it’s likely just a Hail Mary attempt at throwing his hat in with what will undoubtedly be the winning side in hopes he keeps his job.
Until Monday, the list of those who had come to Hermoso’s defense had one glaring omission: the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) itself.
The RFEF initially adamantly backed Luis Rubiales
Following the World Cup, the Spanish players have made it clear they will no longer play under the current leadership prompting much of Spain’s staff, with the exception of Jorge Vilda, to resign.
Despite the overwhelming worldwide condemnation of Rubiales’ actions, the Spanish Federation had inexplicably continued to back Rubiales by reprimanding the players, threatening Hermoso with legal action, and standing behind Rubiales’ claims that the kiss was consensual.
So instead of being able to fully enjoy the sticky spray of lockerroom champagne, picking confetti from her hair in a state of delirious happiness, and basking in the national pride hitting the team in waves down the streets of Madrid, Jenni Hermoso has been forced to go to battle with Luis Rubiales and the federation.
Hermoso issued a statement of her own explaining in no uncertain terms that the kiss was anything but consensual. She’s since passed the torch to her agency and the player’s union to go to battle on her behalf until all matters are resolved.
FIFA suspended Rubiales for 90 days and the Spanish government has called for his removal, but despite the entire world witnessing his hideous behavior on national television, Rubiales refuses to resign.
On Monday, the RFEF released a new statement with a markedly different tune. The RFEF is now asking Rubiales to resign after finding his actions to be “unacceptable examples of behaviour that have seriously damaged the image of Spanish football…”
The RFEF was the last major player holding out. Without their backing, Luis Rubiales has nowhere left to turn.
After continuously turning a blind eye to the toxicity prevalent in their organization, the Spanish Federation is being forced to confront the issues head-on. The outpouring of support and calls for action on Hermoso’s behalf can’t undo the kiss or the slanderous statements she’s had to endure, but it’s a start.