Luis Rubiales, the President of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has declined to step down from his position despite facing criticism for a kiss planted on player Jenni Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup trophy celebrations last week.
Rubiales’ decision came amid a barrage of calls for his resignation from various quarters, including FIFA’s disciplinary proceedings and widespread public outrage. An emergency football federation meeting convened to address the issue witnessed Rubiales standing his ground, firmly denying the allegations while maintaining that the act was a spontaneous, shared expression of euphoria – likening it to a gesture of affection towards his own child.
Speaking defiantly during the meeting, Rubiales acknowledged his capacity to err and promptly seek forgiveness. He, however, voiced his discontent over the ongoing “hunt” he has faced for the past five years and urged for a fair evaluation of the situation. He made a clear distinction between his actions and sexual assault, expressing concerns that drawing such parallels would undermine the experiences of actual victims.
Despite Rubiales’ refusal to step down, Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz advocated for immediate actions to address what she referred to as a “culture of machismo impunity.” Diaz emphasized her strong disapproval of the current state of affairs and called for a thorough reevaluation of the sudden kiss of President Spanish football to the player.
Prior to this meeting, the Spanish High Council of Sport (CSD) had already signaled their intention to take stern measures against Rubiales if the football federation failed to take appropriate action. This pressure further heightened the stakes for the embattled president.
It’s worth highlighting that Luis Rubiales had previously faced intense scrutiny for the incident involving Jenni Hermoso, wherein his unsolicited kiss during the post-match celebrations of the FIFA World Cup triggered accusations of sexual abuse. Football enthusiasts, both in Spain and beyond, expressed their concern, prompting calls for FIFA and the Spanish government to intervene decisively against Rubiales for his actions.
In an interesting turn of events, a number of football players rallied in support of Jenni Hermoso. The Spanish Women’s football team, in particular, has taken a stand against Rubiales, vowing not to participate in any further matches for the national team until he vacates his role as the head of the federation.
As the situation unfolds, the controversy has ignited a broader conversation about consent, gender dynamics, and the responsibility of those in power to be held accountable for their actions, irrespective of their intent. The resolution of this issue is anticipated to have ripple effects on the larger discourse surrounding women’s involvement in sports and their right to be treated with respect and dignity.