Spain’s sporting controversies include ‘blacked-up’ F1 fan and slanted eye photo

‘This is unacceptable’ – Alexia Putellas after Luis Rubiales refuses to resign

Spanish sporting authorities have been thrust into the spotlight since the country’s victory at the Women’s World Cup earlier this month. RFEF president Luis Rubiales is at the centre of the controversy after kissing Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso in the aftermath of the tournament triumph. Here, Express Sport sheds more light on the unfolding saga, alongside five other controversial sporting moments in the nation’s recent history…

Rubiales kiss

The president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) sparked controversy by spontaneously kissing World Cup winner Hermoso on the lips following a 1-0 win over England in this month’s final.

Despite intense pressure to step down from his role, Rubiales refused to resign during a remarkable press conference called last week, which saw him compare the members of Spain’s victorious team to his daughters.

The saga is still unfolding, with FIFA suspending the 46-year-old from all football-related activity for 90 days pending disciplinary proceedings. The development also forbids Rubiales contacting Hermoso for the duration of his suspension.

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‘Blacked-up’ F1 fans

A group of F1 supporters caused a storm back in 2008 by turning up to the Montmelo Circuit near Barcelona wearing dark curly wigs, black make-up and T-shirts with the words ‘Hamilton’s family’. Lewis Hamilton was among the drivers conducting testing sessions at the track.

One of the fans insisted to the Spanish press that he was ‘not a racist’, but merely wanted to ‘have a laugh at Hamilton’s father’. The UK’s sports minister at the time, Gerry Sutcliffe, called the incident ‘sickening’ and made a formal complaint to his Spanish counterpart.

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Slanted eye photo

Later that same year, Spain’s national basketball team were forced to address a photo which showed players using their fingers to ‘make their eyes look more Chinese’ ahead of the Beijing Olympics. “It was supposed to be funny but never offensive in any way,” said former Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol. “I’m sorry if anybody took it the wrong way.”

Viniciur Jr bites back

The Real Madrid star has frequently faced racist abuse since joining up with Los Blancos in 2018. Back in May, a match with Valencia was halted for 10 minutes after Vinicius pointed out a group of fans hurling insults in his direction, and the Brazilian was later sent off for getting into an altercation with opposition players. After the game, the Brazilian claimed that racism was ‘normal’ in La Liga, adding: “I am sorry for those Spaniards who disagree but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists.”

Apology for ‘sexist’ prizes

Earlier this year, organisers of the Carrera de la Mujer running race insisted that they were unaware of the potential sexist implications of awarding female competitors with kitchen appliances and low-fat products as prizes. “We apologise if this has been the case and if any woman may have felt offended, but it is a product that we consider not to have a sexist character,” read an official statement.

Aragones’ staggering speech

Former Spain manager Luis Aragones caused a storm back in 2005 by trying to justify calling Thierry Henry a ‘black s***’ to Jose Antonio Reyes. “Reyes is ethnically a gypsy,” he said. “All I did was to motivate the gypsy by telling him he was better than the black. I feel I have been the victim of a lynching. All I did was try to motivate Reyes by comparing him with Henry and making him see that he was better.”

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