Will a kiss kick off Spain’s #MeToo?
FIFA has benched Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales for 90 days pending a disciplinary committee investigation of his conduct following Spain’s World Cup victory over England. Rubiales was suspended after he kissed star forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the presentation ceremony, provoking a storm of reaction from Hermoso, her team, the sporting world, and politicians.
While Rubiales initially claimed the kiss was consensual, “spontaneous” and “without any intention of bad faith,” last Monday he called it “a mistake.” That didn’t satisfy Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who said the apology for an “unacceptable gesture” was “not enough.” Yolanda Díaz, acting second deputy prime minister, called for Rubiales to resign. Spanish men’s international striker Borja Iglesias said he will not play for the national team “until things change,” and Hermoso’s teammates vowed not to play any more games as long as Rubiales remains as president.
But Rubiales then changed his tune. On Friday, he defended himself before an Extraordinary General Assembly of FIFA and refused to quit. The next day, Spain’s football federation accused Hermoso of lying and backed up Rubiales’ version of events, threatening to sue the star forward if she did not play.
In response, Hermoso issued a lengthy post to X, formerly known as Twitter, writing that “I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part,” and that she had been pressured to issue a statement “to justify Mr. Rubiales’ actions.” In solidarity, 11 coaches and technical staff resigned and released a joint statement condemning Rubiales’ conduct. FIFA has ordered both Rubiales and the Spanish football federation to refrain from contacting Hermoso and those close to her.
This leaves everyone wondering, will this be Spain’s “Me Too” moment? So far, the score appears to be Hermoso 1, Rubiales 0.