FIFA has taken the unprecedented step of suspending Mr Luis Rubiales, the head of Spain’s football federation, for 90 days following a controversial incident at the Women’s World Cup. The incident has not only put a shadow over Spain’s recent victory but has also ignited a fierce debate about appropriate behaviour and sexism in the world of sports.
The controversy erupted when Spain’s national team secured a victory at the Women’s World Cup, a moment of triumph that should have been celebrated universally. However, it quickly took a dark turn as Luis Rubiales, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony. This gesture was met with widespread criticism, raising questions about the boundaries of professionalism and respect within the sports community.
Adding fuel to the fire, Spain’s national team players declared their refusal to participate in future matches unless Luis Rubiales resigned from his position. Their demand was fuelled by not only the controversial kiss but also Rubiales’ previous inappropriate gestures, including grabbing his crotch after a victory over England. These incidents have shone a spotlight on the culture within the Spanish football federation and the broader issue of gender dynamics in sports leadership.
“The kiss was never consensual,” 33-year-old Jenni Hermoso wrote in a statement on Twitter, which AkweyaTV has reproduced here. “I was asked to make a joint statement to alleviate the pressure but all that was in my mind was to enjoy a historic milestone. Despite my decision, I have been under constant pressure to make a statement to justify Mr Rubiales’ actions.”
In a surprising turn of events, Spain’s football federation released a statement attempting to shift blame onto Jenni Hermoso for the incident. The federation published a series of photographs suggesting that Hermoso had initiated the physical contact with Rubiales and had given her consent for the kiss. However, the move backfired spectacularly, resulting in public outrage and accusations of victim-blaming.
FIFA’s intervention has added another layer of complexity to the situation. The global football governing body has suspended Rubiales from all football-related activities for a duration of 90 days. This decision not only acknowledges the seriousness of the matter but also sends a clear message about the standards of conduct that are expected from officials in the world of soccer.
The incident and its aftermath have put Spain’s World Cup victory in the background, overshadowed by the scandal and public debate. Questions about consent, professionalism, and gender equality have taken centre stage, forcing both the Spanish football federation and the broader sporting community to confront uncomfortable truths.
English women’s national team, the Lionesses, have publicly supported Jenni Hermoso. In like manner, male players like Real Betis’s striker Borja Iglesias, support Hermoso. Iglesias says he is done with football if Rubiales remains in his seat.
As the suspension takes effect, the focus now shifts to how the Spanish football federation will respond and whether this incident will spark broader discussions and actions to address sexism and inappropriate behaviour in soccer and sports as a whole. There are reports that the FA is suing Hermoso, which adds another bizarre twist.
The FA issued a statement, saying: “The RFEF and Mr President will demonstrate each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself. The RFEF and the President, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the FUTPRO union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions.”
The world will be watching closely to see if this incident leads to lasting change and a more respectful and inclusive environment for all participants in the game. Many analysts are already speculating that this could become the #MeToo movement in football.