I went on holiday for a week to get over the pain of losing the World Cup final. But, really, there was just one issue on everyone’s mind – the Luis Rubiales kiss on Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso.
It is a bigger issue than just one kiss and that’s what we need to remember. Players have been fighting against so many things in the women’s game for so long and not just in Spain.
There were issues between many of the Spain players and their former manager Jorge Vilda, who was sacked on Tuesday, leading into the tournament but not all stories make it far out of Spain.
There are so many concerns still in women’s football and I know of a number of players to whom things have happened, stories that I just can’t tell you in this column.
But the underlying issue being highlighted by what happened at the World Cup final is about the employer-employee relationship and respect for women from those in power, which is why this is being spoken about as a potential breaking point for women in Spain.
I’m sure you’ve seen the protests in Madrid. It’s hard for me to talk about as I’m not Spanish but I would love to see more female empowerment in the country and change for the better.
That’s what this discussion is aimed at. It’s a chance for the players to speak out. If Jenni can’t say ‘I felt uncomfortable with the kiss’, with the world watching the moment live on television, how is anyone else going to feel in that situation?
It is a huge moment to make change in women’s football. Winning the European Championship last year made the biggest change the English women’s game has ever seen. Success brings a voice.
So after winning the World Cup, you would hope Spain have that. We can be the leaders of change now, the female and male players who support Jenni.
I haven’t had the chance to speak to her yet, it’s difficult at the moment and I know she’s keeping her circle pretty closed.
Rubiales is a powerful man and Jenni has been put in an uncomfortable position. Everyone is focused on him, not her.
Winning the World Cup is a life-changing moment for Jenni but it has been tarnished. Her life has been changed more by this incident than by lifting the trophy.
She’s going through an ordeal because there are people whose support is on the other side of the argument and she is having to persuade the whole world she was uncomfortable with the kiss.
What we do know, though, is our combined voices are louder than just one and we hope the Spanish players’ voices are heard. They already had their issues with Vilda.
I know the relationship we have as a squad with Sarina Wiegman is very different than that which Vilda had with Spain’s players.
Federations could do a lot worse than listen to us as players, we’re the ones who are feeling these things. We can help find ways to make change.
We play football because we love football. It was my dream. No one dreams from the age of three about becoming president of a federation. We are the ones with the game in our hearts.
We play football because we love football. No one dreams of becoming president of the FA
I did think, ‘Imagine if that had been one of us’. It is fair to say I’m sure there would have been change by now. We have not been perfect in England in the past, we know that, but the standards we have set might not be being met by everybody else at this stage.
Football is seen predominantly as a man’s world and change in football can correlate into society.
The culture is different in Spain but then we had a different culture in England in years gone by too. Women in Spain would love to have more empowerment, I’m sure of that, and to be able to bring about the changes we all want.
So listen to us and I’m optimistic we can find a way to make women’s football globally a more comfortable place to be. I’m ready for the fight.
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