Luis Rubiales, the President of the Spanish Soccer Federation, ignited a storm of controversy during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony by planting a kiss on a player’s lips, which many labeled as assault.
The incident, widely condemned by sports federations and the general public, has sparked a conversation about appropriate conduct and respect within the realm of women’s sports.
The incident unfolded after Spain’s victory, as Rubiales, seemingly oblivious to the presence of 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofa, made the gesture of grabbing his crotch.
As the Spanish team basked in the glory of their gold medal triumph, Rubiales pulled forward player Jenni Hermoso by the head, pulling her toward him and kissing her.
This shocking behavior drew attention, with both the Spanish government and the International Players’ Association denouncing Rubiales’ actions, mere hours after Spain secured a 1-0 victory over England.
In a statement attributed to the player who was kissed, the soccer federation led by Rubiales attempted to downplay the incident. Subsequently, the federation released a video where Rubiales apologizes.
“Surely I was wrong, I have to admit,” Rubiales said in a video statement sent “It was without bad faith at a time of maximum effusiveness,” he added.
In the aftermath of the incident, video footage posted on platforms like Instagram and YouTube by El Mundo newspaper and other media outlets depicted Hermoso confiding in her teammates in the locker room, expressing her discomfort with the situation.
“I didn’t like it,” Hermoso said.
In an apparent contradiction to Hermoso’s sentiments, hinted El Pais media, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued a statement, citing Hermoso’s account and framing the incident as an unplanned, mutual display of elation.
The RFEF’s stance, however, diverges from Hermoso’s initial reaction.
The incident, captured in an online video that rapidly went viral, has incited widespread outrage both within and outside the borders of Spain.
Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister of Equality, vehemently emphasized that such actions must not be normalized.
On the X app, she said, “Let’s not assume that giving a kiss without consent is something “that happens”. It is a form of sexual violence that women suffer on a daily basis and until now invisible, and that we cannot normalize. It is the task of the whole society. Consent in the center. only yes is yes.”
Netherlands-based organization, The International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO) said “It is deeply lamentable that such a special moment for the players of the Spain national team that was taking place before a global television audience should be stained by the inappropriate conduct of an individual in a role carrying so much responsibility.”
Uninitiated and uninvited physical gestures towards players are not appropriate or acceptable in any context, explained the organization.
“This is especially true when players are put in a position of vulnerability because a physical approach or gesture is initiated by a person who holds power over them,” further stated FIFPRO.
It is important to note that Spain’s World Cup victory, which should have been the focal point of global attention, now shares the headlines with the highly controversial kiss, amplifying discussions about gender dynamics and boundaries in sports.
In light of this controversy, another resurfaced.
Players are complaining about the coach Jorge Vilda, saying that they were forced to “leave their hotel room doors open” by their controversial manager.