The president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, has been heavily criticised on social media for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips on Sunday, during the Women’s World Cup celebrations in Sydney, with many calling for his resignation. ALSO READ: Spain beat England 1-0 to win the Women’s World Cup.
La Roja lifted the trophy after beating England 1-0 in Australia but victory was tarnished by the incident which occurred shortly after the game during the medal ceremony.
In an Instagram live stream of the celebrations in the dressing rooms, Hermoso is seen apparently making her distaste known, responding, ‘Hey, but I didn’t like that!’ when asked about the kiss and shown a video clip of it – although she was laughing as she spoke. (See Tweet below).
Later Hermoso said the moment was a ‘natural gesture of affection’.
‘It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,’ she reportedly said, according to the AFP, citing comments passed to them by the Spanish football federation. ‘The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.’
Many have said that the kiss on the lips was not a ‘gesture of affection’ but an ‘abuse of power’ and also sexual aggression. [A video clip can be seen via the Tweet below].
The video has been shared widely on social media, prompting international media coverage of the kiss. An article in The New York Times, said the video has been spurring ‘confusion among many Spaniards and prompting others to denounce it as highly inappropriate behaviour. Some called it disgraceful and evidence of lingering sexism in soccer. Others demanded that Rubiales resign.’
Spain’s World Cup charge was tainted by controversy over both the federation and coach Jorge Vilda’s relationship with the players.
Several top stars formed part of a 15-player protest against the national team ahead of the tournament, although many relented in their stance and three were included in the squad.
Rubiales was a firm backer of Vilda and the RFEF was criticised for their strong position against the 15 protesting players.
Hermoso, who plays for Mexican side Pachuca, missed a penalty in the match but Spain held on to win through Olga Carmona’s first-half strike.
‘We played how we wanted to play and we won a World Cup,’ an emotional Hermoso told Spanish national broadcasters La 1, in tears after the game.
Imagine at the height of your career, you just won #WorldCup2023, your boss grabs you and kisses you on the mouth in front of the entire world. That’s how bold patriarchy is and what women footballers must contend with h/t @BarbaraVBarge pic.twitter.com/1witAkvn9t #RubialesDimisión https://t.co/h9dpDsnEXW— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) August 20, 2023
El momento en el que le enseñan a Jenni el vídeo— ALBA (@profitebol2) August 20, 2023
“Pero y qué hago yo?” pic.twitter.com/mJfRywaAUM