Outrage Sparked by Spanish Soccer Leader’s Behavior during Women’s World Cup Final

by Madison Thomas
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Following Spain’s triumph in the Women’s World Cup, the head of the nation’s soccer federation drew attention away from the victorious players due to his controversial actions.

Criticism flooded in from both the Spanish government and the soccer community as Luis Rubiales, the leader of Spain’s national soccer federation, faced backlash for his inappropriate behavior while celebrating Spain’s 1-0 victory against England in the final held in Sydney, Australia.

Rubiales came under fire for making an offensive victory gesture by grabbing his crotch, seemingly oblivious to the presence of 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofía nearby. Additionally, he kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal and trophy ceremony on the field. His actions cast a shadow on what should have been a momentous occasion for women’s soccer.

The kiss was strongly condemned by the world players’ union FIFPRO, which labeled it as “deeply lamentable.” Rubiales, a former leader of FIFPRO’s Spanish branch, took up his position as head of the national soccer federation in 2018.

Spain’s acting minister for sports and culture, Miquel Iceta, expressed his disapproval on public broadcaster RNE, stating that “it is unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her.”

An even more vehement reaction came from Irene Montero, the Spanish government’s equality minister. She commented on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), emphasizing that the act constituted a form of sexual violence that women experience daily and should not be normalized.

Given the sport’s history of allegations involving sexual misconduct by male soccer officials and coaches against female players in national teams, the kiss was particularly shocking. During the qualifying rounds for the World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, two teams—Haiti and Zambia—had to address such issues.

Notably, the Spain squad faced internal issues the previous year due to complaints about the team culture under coach Jorge Vilda, nearly leading to a mutiny.

After the match, Rubiales hugged and kissed several players, including Queen Letizia of Spain, as they collected their medals. In a dressing room video, players were seen laughing and reacting to the incident, with Hermoso stating, “But I didn’t like it!” Her gesture suggested a sense of helplessness in the situation.

The Spanish soccer federation attempted to defuse the controversy by releasing a statement on Hermoso’s behalf, attributing the gesture to the “immense joy of winning a World Cup” and describing it as a spontaneous display of affection and gratitude.

FIFPRO, based in the Netherlands, held a different stance, deeming such physical gestures towards players initiated by individuals in positions of power as inappropriate and unacceptable.

Rubiales, who also serves as a UEFA vice president, was present at the final in Australia as the highest-ranking elected representative of the European soccer body. Videos captured his celebratory gestures after Spain’s victory, including an action where he briefly grabbed his crotch.

With a crucial role in securing hosting rights for the men’s World Cup in 2030, Rubiales faces the task of engaging soccer officials in the upcoming year. Spain, leading a joint bid with Portugal, Morocco, and Ukraine, is favored for a successful bid.

Both UEFA and FIFA did not immediately respond to requests for comments regarding Rubiales’s conduct.

(Dunbar’s report from Geneva and contribution by Ciaran Giles from Big Big News)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Outrage

What was the cause of the outrage surrounding the Spanish soccer leader during the Women’s World Cup final?

The outrage stemmed from the inappropriate behavior of Luis Rubiales, the head of Spain’s national soccer federation. He grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture and kissed a player on the lips, overshadowing the celebration of Spain’s victory.

How did the Spanish government and soccer world react to Rubiales’ actions?

The Spanish government and soccer community criticized Rubiales for his behavior. Acting minister for sports and culture Miquel Iceta found the kissing gesture unacceptable, while equality minister Irene Montero labeled it a form of sexual violence and expressed concerns about normalizing such conduct.

Why was the kiss and gesture particularly criticized in the context of women’s soccer?

The kiss and gesture were seen as inappropriate and disrespectful, given the sport’s history of allegations involving sexual misconduct by male soccer officials and coaches against female players in national teams. It was considered especially shocking during a moment meant to celebrate women’s achievements in soccer.

How did FIFPRO, the world players’ union, react to Rubiales’ actions?

FIFPRO strongly condemned the behavior, referring to the kiss as “deeply lamentable.” They asserted that such physical gestures toward players, especially initiated by individuals in positions of power, were inappropriate and not acceptable in any context.

What was the response of the Spanish soccer federation and the player involved?

The Spanish soccer federation released a statement on behalf of the player, Jenni Hermoso, describing the gesture as a spontaneous and natural display of affection and gratitude due to the excitement of winning the World Cup. Hermoso echoed this sentiment, emphasizing her positive relationship with Rubiales.

What role does Luis Rubiales hold beyond the national soccer federation?

Apart from leading Spain’s national soccer federation, Rubiales is also a UEFA vice president. He played a key role in wooing soccer officials for Spain’s joint bid with Portugal, Morocco, and Ukraine to host the men’s World Cup in 2030.

How did UEFA and FIFA respond to Rubiales’ conduct?

Both UEFA and FIFA did not immediately respond to requests for comments regarding Rubiales’ behavior during the Women’s World Cup final.

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