Spain’s World Cup star Jennifer Hermoso has insisted that she did not consent to being kissed by the Spanish football federation president, Luis Rubiales after Sunday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final.
She and the 22 other players of the country’s historic FIFA Women’s World Cup winning squad plus 58 additional players have announced they will not play for the national team as long as current leadership remains.
Since planting a kiss on the lips of Hermoso as she was about to receive her gold medal at Stadium Australia in Sydney, the 46-year-old Rubiales has been facing widespread criticism, increasing calls for his resignation.
He has also been heavily condemned for grabbing his crotch in the VIP area of the stadium after Spain’s 1-0 win over England.
RUBIALES REFUSES TO RESIGN
Rubiales was widely expected to step down at the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s extraordinary general assembly on Friday, but instead he shouted repeatedly “I will not resign”, explaining that: “It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key. A consensual peck is enough to get me out of here?”
Rubiales claimed he asked Hermoso for consent before kissing her on the lips.
“I NEVER CONSENTED”
Later in the day players’ union FUTPRO released a statement in which Hermoso is quoted as saying: “I want to clarify that, as seen in the footage, I never consented to the kiss he gave me, and of course, I never intended to lift the president in the air.
“I don’t tolerate that my word is distrusted, and even less so, the invention of words I never said.”
PLAYERS ON STRIKE
The statement, signed by 81 players, including all 23 members of the squad which just won the World Cup, added: “After everything that happened during the delivery of medals of the Women’s World Cup, we want to state that all the players who sign this letter will not return to a call for the national team if the current leaders continue.”
SHOCKED AND VULNERABLE
Hermoso’s personal statement came on the heels of the FUTPRO statement, where she revealed that she had been put under “continuous pressure” to provide a public comment that would “justify Mr. Luis Rubiales’ actions”.
The 33-year-old former Barcelona player said she was “shocked” by the incident and it made her feel “vulnerable”.
“I want to make it clear that at no time did the conversation to which Mr. Luis Rubiales refers to in his address take place, and, above all, was his kiss ever consensual. I want to reiterate as I did before that I did not like this incident,” the Mexican club CF Pachuca player stated.
Towards the end of her statement, Hermoso reiterated she will not play for Spain again “as long as the current leaders remain”.
Spain’s next game is against Sweden in the Nations League on September 22.
The Spanish football federation has released a statement saying it will take legal action over Hermoso’s “lies” about its president Rubiales.
Hermoso, who is Spain’s leading women’s goalscorer with 51 from 101 appearances, said on Friday: “I feel obliged to report that Mr. Luis Rubiales’ words explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated.”
After insisting she did not consent, the federation, in the early hours of Saturday, tried to provide evidence to discredit her version, especially the part in the FUTPRO statement where she said she never intended to lift the president in the air while they embraced on the podium.
“The evidence is conclusive,” it said. “Mr. President has not lied.”
TAKING LEGAL ACTION
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said: “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 RFEF provided four images of Hermoso’s embrace with Rubiales, with an analysis of each, claiming she applied the force to lift Rubiales’ feet off the ground.
FIFA, football’s world governing body, on Thursday opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales.
UEFA, of which he is a vice president, has not made any comment yet, while the Spanish has began legal proceedings seeking to suspend Rubiales.
Credit: AIPS Media