Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s team and their Swedish opponents on Friday held up a banner with the slogan ‘Se Acabó’ (‘It’s over’) in protest over the sexism scandal which has engulfed the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
Spain won Friday’s Nations League clash in Gothenburg 3-2 when Mariona Caldentey converted a penalty six minutes into extra time. It was Spain’s first match since capturing the biggest prize in women’s football last month in Australia. That achievement ultimately was tarnished by the scandal sparked by the former RFEF president, Luis Rubiales, forcibly kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup awards ceremony. ALSO READ: Rubiales denies any wrongdoing, but is banned from going within 200 metres of Hermoso.
The fallout has been far-reaching, remaining high up the global news agenda and continuing right up to the eve of the match when a deal was reached between the players, federation and government mediators that Spain’s players believe will lead to real reform inside the beleaguered federation and mark a turning point in the fight for equality.
The pre-match protest came with the 22 players holding up the banner bearing the Spanish phrase ‘Se Acabó’ adding that the struggle of the players against chauvinism and sexual assault was ‘the global fight’ for equality between men and women.
Just before kick-off in Friday’s Nations League game, the Spanish women also raised their fists to reveal wristbands which carried words of protest and support.
Most carried the same ‘Se Acabó’ message, while others simply wrote ‘Jenni’ or the number 10 of Hermoso’s shirt.
Hermoso was not called up for the game by new coach Montse Tomé to ‘protect her’. ALSO READ: ‘Protect me from what?’ asks Hermoso, as striking players arrive reluctantly for training.
Nine of the 23 world champions who refused to return to the team since the Rubiales scandal broke, demanding profound changes within the Spanish Football Federation, finally started at kick-off on Friday.
‘It’s a very positive victory that manages to make you forget the days we’ve had,’ said Tomé.
‘It also means that we have players with incredible talent. They love what they do. What they know how to do is play soccer, and we have to make them feel they can really concentrate on the game.’
Magdalena Eriksson gave the hosts a 23rd minute lead. Athenea del Castillo levelled seven minutes before half time. Eva Navarro put Spain ahead in the 77th minute but Lina Hurtig replied for Sweden.
Amanda Ilestedt of Sweden was shown a straight red card five minutes into extra time conceding the penalty that Caldentey converted.
Spain returns to action on Tuesday against Switzerland in its first home game as world champion.
Meanwhile, three national team players have been summoned as witnesses by the judge investigating Rubiales for the kiss. The players, who were not named, are expected to testify next week.
The RFEF earlier on Friday announced that it fired its integrity director, Miguel García Caba. The announcement came a few days after it said secretary general Andreu Camps was relieved of his duties. The changes were part of the demands made by the players who boycotted the national team after the kiss by Rubiales.