Lionesses wade into Spain World Cup kiss row: England stars say ‘abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth’ as they vow to stand by Jenni Hermoso and Spanish stars say they won’t play again unless their FA boss Luis Rubiales is sacked
- Spain’s women’s football squad have announced they will not play for their side
- That is until president of the Spanish Football Association Luis Rubiales is fired
- WATCH: It’s All Coming Up – Mail Sport’s preview show for the weekend’s football
England’s lionesses have had their say on the ongoing row in Spain over the country’s football boss who appeared to forcibly kiss one of the victorious players during their Women’s World Cup final celebrations.
Football Federation President Luis Rubiales, 46, caused outrage after the Spanish women defeated England in Sydney, Australia, last weekend and he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the celebrations. He was also seen grabbing his crotch while in the royal box with Queen Letizia and her daughter.
England’s women vowed to stand by Hermoso in a statement last night, saying: ‘Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth’.
The Lionesses called Rubiales’ actions ‘unacceptable’ and pointed at the Spanish FA, labelling it a ‘sexist and patriarchal organisation’.
It comes after Hermoso herself issued an emotional statement on Friday in which she claimed she has been put under ‘continuous pressure’ to defend Rubiales, and stressed she did not consent to the forced kiss.
Luis Rubiales has now remained defiant, insisting he won’t step down – accusing Hermoso of lying as he claims she agreed to the kiss.
Spanish Football Federation president Rubiales refused to resign after his controversial on-the-mouth kiss of player Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s World Cup triumph
The Lionesses called Rubiales’ actions ‘unacceptable’ and pointed at the Spanish FA, labelling it a ‘sexist and patriarchal organisation’. England’s players are pictured following their World Cup Final defeat at Stadium Australia in Sydney last week, August 20
The Lionesses’ statement last night read: ‘Unacceptable actions allowed to happen by a sexist and patriarchal organisation.
‘Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth. The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people shouldn’t take any convincing to take action against any form of harassment.
‘We stand with you, Jenni Hermoso and all players of the Spanish team.’
Lionesses Goalkeeper Mary Earps, defender Lucy Bronze, and World Cup captain Millie Bright were among the players to share the statement on their social media accounts.
Hermoso last night accused Rubiales and the Spanish FA of creating a ‘manipulative’ and ‘controlling’ environment for players.
It followed a dramatic meeting with the country’s football bosses at which he had been expected to resign, but instead accused the media and player of a ‘social murder’ and shouted four times he would not step down. He claims the kiss was consensual.
After he refused to quit his job and blamed ‘false feminism’ for what he called a ‘social murder’, the Spanish government started legal action to suspend him – and the head of Spain’s women’s football committee has quit his post in protest.
Several members of the Spanish women’s football team have said that they will not play any more matches for their country until president Luis Rubiales has been removed from his role
The Spanish footballer responded to Rubiales after he today told officials he asked permission to kiss Hermoso, who was said to have responded to say he could give her ‘a little peck’.
But Hermoso vehemently denied this as she, the rest of the 23-strong World Cup squad and 58 other players all signed a statement refusing to play another game for Spain until Rubiales is no longer in post.
Taking to Twitter, she wrote: ‘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.
‘I want to make it clear that at no time did the conversation wo 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 situation shocked me given the celebrations that were taking place at the moment, and with the passage of time and after delving a little deeper into those initial feelings, I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours.
‘I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.
‘Simply put, I was not respected.’
The president of Spain’s Women’s Football Committee Rafael del Amo (pictured) has resigned
Alexis Putellas (left of left image) is one of the footballers to express dismay with Spanish FA president Rubiales, calling his behaviour towards team-mate Hermoso ‘unacceptable’ – the two players are pictured wearing each others’ shirts
She went on to accuse the Spanish FA (RFEF) of putting her under ‘continuous pressure’ to ‘make a joint statement to alleviate the pressure on the president’ as outrage about the kiss grew.
Hermoso also claimed her friends, family and teammates have also been pressured, with teammates also asked by the RFEF to make statements about the incident.
Rubiales claimed the kiss was ‘consensual’ in a speech today. He said: ‘It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key. A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here?
‘Jenni was the one who lifted me up. I told her to ‘forget about the penalty [that Mary Earps saved]’ and I said to her ‘a little peck?’ and she said ‘OK’.’
Hermoso said this claim was ‘categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he has generated.’
She continued: ‘I am sure that as the World Champions, we as a team do not deserve such a manipulative, hostile, and controlling culture.
‘These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing in recent years.
‘This incident, one in which I have been involved, is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television during the celebration also comes with attitudes like the one we saw the morning and have been part of our team’s daily life for years.’
Rubiales had been expected to resign on Friday but instead began a long-winded rant in which he claimed he was the subject of a ‘witch-hunt’, shouting he would not resign four times.
After his failure to step down, the Spanish government has started legal proceedings in a bid to have the 46-year-old suspended. Victor Francos, head of the government’s National Sports Council, said the government sees this as the ‘MeToo of Spanish football,’ the Times reports.
Francos said: ‘What Mr Rubiales has done is aggravate the situation. The government will not be impassive.’
He continued: ‘The government begins today the procedures so that Mr Rubiales has to give explanations before the Administrative Court of Sport [TAD] and, if the TAD is willing, we will suspend Mr Rubiales in his functions.’
It is expected a court hearing will take place on Monday.
Viral images showed the president with his hands holding both sides of Hermoso’s head as he kissed her on the lips.
Asked about the moment on Spanish TV afterwards, Hermoso said: ‘I did not like it.’
A total of 81 players signed a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union demanding the removal of the federation leadership and refusing to play for the national team until Rubiales has gone.
Jenni Hermoso released a lengthy statement on social media in response to the incident
Today he refused to quit in a rant where he blamed ‘false feminism’ for the perceived ‘witch-hunt’ against him.
It comes as the president of Spain’s Women’s Football Committee Rafael del Amo resigned after Luis Rubiales announced that he would not be stepping down as the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
Del Amo, who oversees the body that supervises women’s football in Spain, claimed on Friday that he could not be involved in a project that he ‘did not believe in.’
‘I have submitted my resignation after seeing that Luis Rubiales continues to lead the Federation,’ Del Amo said, according to Diario de Sevilla.
‘I have been the only president who has told him looking at his face. I believed in a female project that did not exist and he opted for it, with 27 million euros, I am super grateful.
‘But I think, above all because of what happened in the box, that it is unacceptable.’
‘I told him [Rubiales]: ‘Have to be honest with you, I think you can’t be here as president’,’ he added.
‘I have to thank him, I respect what he does, but I can’t be in a project that I don’t believe in, that’s clear. We all thought on Thursday that he was going to resign today.’
Alexis Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner, and World Cup-winning team-mates Cata Coll, Aitana Bonmati and Irene Paredes have all spoken out publicly in defence of Hermoso.
It comes after Spanish Football President Luis Rubiales kissed Jennifer Hermoso on the lips after the Women’s World Cup final with Del Amo saying he ‘could not be involved in a project he did not believe in’
Putellas tweeted: ‘This is unacceptable. It’s over. With you partner @jennihermoso’, while Bonmati wrote: ‘There are limits that cannot be crossed and we cannot tolerate this. We are with you partner.’
Cata Coll, who was between the sticks for Spain in the final, wrote: ‘What a pity it gives me that 23 soccer players are not the protagonists… it’s over! With you to death Jenni Hermoso’.
Their fellow Spanish player, Patricia Guijarro, who was one of 15 players to voice opposition to head coach Jorge Vilda last year and was not picked for the World Cup, tweeted: ‘It’s over. With you @jennihermoso. Unfortunate to reach this point to believe that the complaints from months ago were real.’
Barcelona and Norway player Caroline Hansen said: ‘@jennihermoso with you! This is all lies. We all see what really happened’.
Swiss star and Barcelona player Ana-Maria Crnogorčević took a more vehement approach: ‘I’m freaking out.. it’s over. F*** this bulls**t, f**k all this f**king lies. This is insane… With you Jenni always.’
Men’s national team striker Borja Iglesias has also quit playing for his country in protest while Rubiales remains in post.
The 30-year-old Real Betis full-back, who has been capped twice by Spain, said: ‘Wearing the Spanish National Team shirt is one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my career.
‘I don’t know if at some point I will be an option again, but I have made the decision not to return to the National Team until things change and this type of act does not go unpunished.’
Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales defiantly refused to resign in his speech
He then blew kisses to the audience after insisting he would not step down from his position
Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales arrives at their headquarters for Friday’s emergency meeting – he refused to resign in an impassioned speech
Having branded his detractors as ‘idiots’ earlier this week, Rubiales was again defiant amid mounting pressure to step down from his position.
‘I am not going to resign,’ he shouted four times in a charged speech following an emergency meeting of federation officials, vowing ‘I will fight until the end.’
Norway’s Caroline Hansen, who plays for Barcelona, said: ‘@Jennihermoso with you! This is all lies. We all see what really happened.’
Former Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea said ‘my ears are bleeding’, while ex-Real Madrid and Spain ‘keeper Iker Casillas called the fiasco ’embarrassing’.
In another sensational move, Rubiales said he would extend the contract of highly unpopular Spain women’s team coach Jorge Vilda by another four years, announcing he would pay him €500,000 (£428,000) a year.
Rubiales said: ‘This is the body that elected me and the body to which I must give explanations.
READ MORE: Moment president of Spanish FA kisses player on the mouth during trophy presentation after Spain’s 1-0 win against England in World Cup final
‘I want to apologise for an event that occurred in the box [the crotch-grabbing]. I am going to explain it by looking at Jorge Vilda.
‘We have been through a lot, they have wanted to do to you the same thing that they are doing to me know, they are trying to create a false speech and turn it against you.
‘I was very moved when after winning the World Cup you turned around and dedicated it to me. There I made the gesture.
‘I apologise to Her Majesty the Queen, I have never behaved like this in a box.’
On the Hermoso kiss, he said: ‘It was more of a peck than a kiss. There was no desire, the desire was the same I would have giving my daughter a kiss, there was no dominance. It was spontaneous, mutual and consented.
‘I have a great relationship with all the players and we had very affectionate moments.
Unpopular team coach Jorge Vilda will have his contract extended, according to Rubiales
Rubiales sparked more outrage after footage emerged of him grabbing his crotch while celebrating Spain’s win in the vicinity of Spanish Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter
‘Jenni picked me up off the ground and we almost fell. She was the one who lifted me up.’
He claimed again that the kiss was consensual, before accusing players of a ‘social murder’.
He continued: ‘Politicians have refered to this action as sexual violence, without consent, assault… These people are trying to assassinate me publicly and I am going to defend myself like all Spaniards, in court. I will take action against these people.
‘The sensationalism of false feminism, they have pushed a lot, the press is going to continue killing me. The truth is the truth.
‘They will be able to continue with this campaign, deep in my heart I don’t care, it is a matter of humility.’
Rubiales then said: ‘The time has come to say something. I was wrong and it was not the time to make that gesture. Is it serious for me to leave? I am not going to resign.’
He repeated this statement three more times, adding: ‘I’m going to fight until the end.’
Rubiales described the reaction to his behaviour as a ‘social murder’ and blamed ‘false feminism’
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It was announced on Thursday that FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against the football chief, who had been clinging on to his position.
Reports emerged in the Spanish press on Thursday that Rubiales was considering his position after Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez demanded an explanation.
Rubiales has now refused to leave as the furore over the 46-year-old’s behaviour rumbles on.
Rubiales earns £214,000-a-year in his role as a vice-president for European football’s governing body UEFA, a position he is able to keep even if he is eventually forced out at the helm of the Spanish FA. UEFA have so far refused to comment on the Spaniard’s actions, despite his high rank in the organisation.
Vilda was closely linked to Rubiales but he was accused of creating a controlling environment with Mundo Deportivo reporting he forced players to keep the doors of their rooms open so he could check they’d gone to sleep.
Vilda also allegedly checked the players’ bags when they returned from shopping trips and demanded they inform him who they were meeting outside of the team camp.
In 2022, 15 players wrote to the Spanish FA making themselves unavailable for selection while Vilda was in charge.
Footage emerged of Vilda appearing to touch a female staff member on the breast after Spain scored their winning goal in the final.
However, Rubiales said in his speech: ‘I think it has been the happiest day of my five years in office, that we are world champions.
‘I have activated the mechanisms for you to stay with us for the next four years, earning half a million euros, you deserve it.
‘You deserve it, we’ve been through a lot. You are one of the best coaches in the world and in women’s football you are without doubt the best.’
Rubiales also carried Spanish player Athenea del Castillo Beivide during the celebrations
Rubiales (right) pictured with Spain’s Queen Letizia and FIFA president Gianni Infantino after their 1-0 win over England in last Sunday’s final
Rubiales has been condemned by a variety of organisations within Spanish football, including FUTPRO – the union that represents Hermoso – and the women’s football league, Liga F, who lodged a complaint with the president of the country’s sports council [CSD].
Hermoso had rejected the invitation to appear in Rubiales’ apology video, despite his pleas that ‘my position is at stake, do it for my daughters.’
Several clubs, including Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Osasuna and Getafe, had called on him to stand down.
FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday under Article 13 of their code of conduct, which refers to ‘offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play.’
Earlier in the week, he tried to defuse the situation by releasing an apology video, saying: ‘I have made a mistake and I have to admit it. It wasn’t done in bad faith; it was a moment of great emotion.’
Then damning footage emerged of Rubiales grabbing his crotch in the wild scenes of celebration that greeted Spain’s victory at Stadium Australia.
The Spanish Queen and her daughter were just a few metres away in the stands.
United States legend Megan Rapinoe described the moment as ‘a signal of a deep level of misogyny and sexism,’ and insisted his kiss of Hermoso was ‘physical assault.’
Rubiales embraces Spanish player Aitana Bonmati during the presentation ceremony
Rubiales hugs Alba Redondo amid Spain’s celebrations after winning the Women’s World Cup
Attacking midfielder Hermoso, who plays for CF Pachuca, admitted she ‘didn’t like’ it when Rubiales grabbed her and held her in a tight embrace before kissing her on the lips on the celebratory podium after the match, for which he later reluctantly apologised despite initially defending his behaviour.
Spanish football chief Miguel Ángel Galán has now filed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office in Madrid and the State Attorney General’s Office alleging Rubiales’ actions constituted sexual assault.
Galan, president of CENAFE – the country’s national school for football coaches – said: ‘I would like to file a complaint against Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Soccer Federation, for committing an alleged crime of sexual assault against the Spanish women’s soccer team’s Jennifer Hermoso.
‘This was an intolerable act of sexist behaviour within our sport, which could constitute an alleged crime of sexual assault. I therefore request that a complaint be filed’.
Galan had already submitted a written complaint to Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD) and the Spanish FA (RFEF) itself, with his latest actions pursuing the criminal route.
Jenni Hermoso’s emotional statement in full
‘After achieving one of the most important objectives of my sports career and after a few days of reflection, I want to sincerely thank my teammates, fans, followers, media and everyone who has made this dream come true; your work and unconditional support were a fundamental part of winning the World Cup.
‘Sadly, the ability to celebrate that has been cut short. While it is true that I do not want to interfere with the multiple ongoing legal processes, 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.
‘I want to make it clear that at no time did the conversation wo 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 situation shocked me given the celebrations that were taking place at the moment, and with the passage of time and after delving a little deeper into those initial feelings, I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours. I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.
‘Simply put, I was not respected.
‘I was asked to make a joint statement to alleviate the pressure on the president, but at that moment all I had in mind was to enjoy the historic milestone achieved with my teammates. For this reason, I always conveyed to the RFEF and its various interlocutors, as well as to media and people I trust, that I would not make any individual or joint statements on this matter, as I understood that doing so would take even more prominence away from such a special moment for my teammates and me.
‘Despite my decision, I must state that I have been under continuous pressure to make a statement that could justify Mr Luis Rubiales’ actions. Not only that, but in different ways and through different people, the RFEF has pressured my surroundings (family, friends, teammates, etc) to give a testimony that had little or nothing to do with my feelings.
‘It is not up to me to evaluate communication and integrity practices, but I am sure that as the World Champions, we as a team do not deserve such a manipulative, hostile, and controlling culture. These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing in recent years. This incident, one in which I have been involved, is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television during the celebration also comes with attitudes like the one we saw the morning and have been part of our team’s daily life for years.
‘For all these reasons, I want to reinforce the position I took from the beginning, considering that I do not have to support the person who has committed this actionn against my will, without respecting me, at a historic moment for me and for women’s sports in this country. Under no circumstances can it be my responsibility to bear the consequences of conveying something I do not believe in, which is why I have refused the pressures received.
‘I have ZERO TOLERANCE for these behaviours.
‘I want to conclude by making it very clear that while it is I who is expressing these words, it is all the players from Spain and around the world who have given me the strength to come out with this statement. In the face of such a display of disrespect and inability to recognise one’s mistakes and take responsibility, I state here and now to everyone of my decision not to play for the National Team again while the current leaders remain.
‘Thank you all for the messages of support and encouraging words received. I know I am not alone, and thanks to all of you, we will push forward more united than ever. I leave this matter in the hands of TMJ and FUTPRO, and the people I trust. They will continued working on the next necessary steps.
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