Spain’s World Cup winners turn on unrelenting FA president: Star player calls Luis Rubiales’ refusal to resign ‘unacceptable’ and squad prepare to publicly call for his head after he blamed ‘false feminism’ for kiss-gate
- Spain players and others have expressed their support for Jenni Hermoso
- They have also tweeted about their outrage towards Luis Rubiales’ behaviour
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Unrelenting Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales has sparked a civil war in the Spain camp as their Women’s World Cup winners make renewed calls for him to resign with a clear message: ‘It’s over’.
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 Jenni Hermoso, the player kissed on the mouth by Rubiales at the World Cup final trophy presentation.
Rubiales has been under pressure to resign for kissing Jenni Hermoso after the World Cup final and seeming to grab his crotch near the Spanish queen and her 16-year-old daughter – but today he refused to quit in a ranted speech where he blamed ‘false feminism’ for the perceived witch-hunt against him.
Now, the players have spoken out to respond and are thought to be preparing a group statement to make a new call for Rubiales to go.
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.’
Alexis Putellas (left of left image) is one of the footballers to express dismay with Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales, calling his behaviour towards team-mate Jenni Hermoso ‘unacceptable’ – the two players are pictured wearing each others’ shirts
Putellas (right) and Hermoso (left) have enjoyed time together with team-mates after Spain won the World Cup – but now Spanish football’s top talent are taking a stand
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 quit playing for his country in protest while Rubiales remains in post.
He tweeted: ‘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.’
Rubiales blamed ‘false feminism’ for a ‘social murder’ against him in a stunning speech on Friday.
He sparked outrage when he kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the mouth as she collected her medal following the 1-0 win over England in Sydney.
Footage also emerged that showed Rubiales grabbing his crotch while standing near Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter Princess Infanta Sofia.
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.’
His refusal to resign was swiftly condemned by Spanish men’s and women’s players on Twitter, with one – men’s defender Borja Iglesias – quitting the national team in protest at Rubiales remaining at the helm.
Alexia Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner who came on for Spain in the final, was the first member of the women’s squad to react on social media.
‘This is unacceptable. It’s over. With you partner @jennihermoso,’ she wrote.
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’.
Iglesias then said he would boycott the Spain men’s side ‘until things change and this type of act does not go unpunished’.
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.’
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.
‘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
Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales refused to resign after his controversial on-the-mouth kiss of player Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s World Cup triumph
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.
‘We hugged and I told her: ‘Forget the [missed] penalty, you’ve been fantastic in this World Cup’ and she told me ‘you’re a crack’ and I told her, a little peck? and she said ‘okay.’
‘It is a social murder, they are trying to kill me. As a Spaniard, we have to reflect on where we are going.
‘False feminism does not seek justice, it does not seek the truth, it does not care about people.
‘Politicians have refereed 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.
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