News & Current Affairs

Spain Players Boycott After Hermoso Rejects Rubiales' Consent Claims

By Azeezat Okunlola | Aug 26, 2023
Spain Players Boycott After Hermoso Rejects Rubiales' Consent Claims
All 23 members of Spain's World Cup-winning team have publicly said that they refuse to represent their country while The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales remains in office.
On Friday, forward Jenni Hermoso issued a joint statement through her union FUTPRO in which she flatly refuted Rubiales' allegation that she had given her consent to his kiss during Spain's celebrations following their World Cup victory.
The statement was signed by all participants in Spain's World Cup roster as well as 58 other former players who said they would not return to the national team as long as Rubiales was in charge.
It comes a week after Rubiales' antics following Spain's World Cup victory in Sydney sparked controversy, disdain, and international condemnation.
In a speech with the RFEF's general assembly on Friday, Rubiales refused to quit and instead called calls for him to resign a campaign of "social assassination" by "false feminists."
Hermoso and her colleagues have stated that they will not play for Spain as long as "the current management" is in place at the RFEF and have urged for "real change to help the national team to keep growing, to be able to bring this great success to the generations to come."
Victor Francos, head of the Spanish Sports Council (CSD) and secretary of state for sport, has indicated that the CSD would file a case with the Spanish Administrative Sports Court (TAD) to have Rubiales removed.
Francos claimed that the meeting "increased the controversy" rather than resolving it. "The explanations given [by Rubiales] aren't sufficient. The CSD today begins the procedure to suspend Luis Rubiales immediately from the RFEF presidency. ... As the person responsible for Spanish sport I have to apologise to the players. They didn't deserve this this week."
"Neither the CSD nor its president can remove [Rubiales]. I can't sack anybody. But we can take the case to TAD if we believe a serious offence has been committed, and TAD can approve it or not."
Later, Hermoso issued a second statement denying Rubiales' allegations, which he also shared on social media.
"I didn't want to interfere in the multiple ongoing legal processes, but I feel obliged to state that the words of Luis Rubiales explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture he himself has created," she posted on X, formerly Twitter.
"I clarify that at no time did the conversation occur which Luis Rubiales referred to, and his kiss was not consensual. In the same way, I want to repeat, as I did at the time, that the incident was not to my liking."
"The situation was a shock for me, in the context of the celebration, and with the passing of time and analysing in more detail those initial feelings, I feel the need to denounce this act as I believe no person in their work, sporting or social environment should be the victim of this kind of nonconsensual behaviour. I felt vulnerable and the victim of aggression, an impulsive, sexist act which was out of place and with no consent on my behalf."
She then claimed that she and her family were coerced by the RFEF into defending Rubiales' behaviour.
"I was asked to make a joint statement to reduce the pressure on the president, but at that time my mind was only on enjoying the historic achievement together with my teammates. That's why I told the RFEF, as well as the media and people close to me, that I didn't want to make any kind of individual or collective statement on this matter."
"Despite my decision, I must say that I have felt under continuous pressure to come out with a statement which could justify Luis Rubiales' actions. Not only that, but in different ways and via different people the RFEF has put pressure on my family, friends and teammates to provide testimony which had little or nothing to do with my feelings."
On Friday night, the RFEF issued a statement disputing several claims made by Hermoso and announcing that it and Rubiales will pursue "as many legal actions as may correspond in defense of the honorability of the president."
On Friday, when Rubiales could have announced his resignation, he instead attempted to defend his actions and attack his detractors before the federation's assembly.
Spanish clubs, players, politicians, and regulating bodies all issued statements denouncing his reaction.
Alexia Putellas, winner of the Ballon d'Or, called the situation "unacceptable," while World Cup MVP Aitana Bonmat said on X, "there are limits that can't be crossed and we can't tolerate."
"Everybody saw what happened," argued defender Irene Paredes. "You [Hermoso] are the victim. I'm with you, friend."
Borja Iglesias, a forward for Real Betis, declared that he will not contemplate playing for the Spanish national team until the current situation is handled.
Foreign players were equally vocal in their disapproval.
Alex Morgan, a star player for the U.S. women's national team, said on X, "I'm disgusted by the public actions of Luis Rubiales." "I stand by @Jennihermoso and the Spanish players. Winning a World Cup should be one of the best moments in these players' lives but instead it's overshadowed by assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation."
The U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement that "no player should ever be subjected to what Jenni Hermoso endured, and we're fully supportive of FIFA's disciplinary proceedings. Player safety should be the highest priority, and we call on everyone in the global soccer community to affirm this fundamental right."
Following their loss to Spain in the final, England's players criticized the "unacceptable actions allowed to happen by a sexist and patriarchal organization" in Rubiales.
"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," a statement from the Lionesses added.