HomeFootballSpanish Soccer Boycott Now Over After Seven Hour Meeting, Hermoso Still Sidelined

Spanish Soccer Boycott Now Over After Seven Hour Meeting, Hermoso Still Sidelined

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The Spanish women’s football team have had a rollercoaster ride. After a half-team mutiny against (now resigned) coach Jorge Vilda, they refilled the team and went on to win 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

At the height of this success, the team were further embroiled in controversy after Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso on stage at the trophy ceremony. Hermoso has since said that the controversial move was without her consent.

A week after bringing home Spain’s first Women’s World Cup, the Spanish football federation behind the team was at war with its champion players. FIFA decided to suspend Rubiales for 90 days, while they investigate his conduct, and the Spanish football federation have asked for Rubiales’ resignation.  Finally, on 11 September after stating that he would never resign, Rubiales finally announced that he would leave the federation. And on October 30, he was banned from all football activities for three years by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.

Then, in April 2024, news hit that Rubiales was briefly arrested by Spanish police per a an allegation that he was connected to an alleged corruption scandal within the Spanish Football Federation, per news.com.au.

So, how did we get here, and what is expected to happen moving forwards? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about this situation here.

Luis Rubiales has said he will not resign despite mounting pressure. (Credit: Image: Getty)

What Did Luis Rubiales Do? 

As the final second slipped away from the game on August 20, 2023, it was confirmed that Spain had taken out the World Cup in a 1-0 decider against England. The crowds went wild. The team, which had been through a lot of controversy in the lead up to the cup, had taken out Spain’s first women’s soccer World Cup win. 

The Spanish squad lined up to accept their medals as music played and confetti sprayed. There was a lineup of soccer personalities and politicians there to congratulate the team, in order: the president of FIFA Gianni Infantino, Spanish Queen Letizia and Princess Sofia, Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Infantino gave the players their medals, and the Queen and Princess gave out hugs to their triumphant players. Rubiales hugged many of the players, offering a few a kiss on the cheek or lift in the air. 

When Spanish midfielder Jenni Hermoso came to Rubiales, the broadcast was focused elsewhere, but it snapped over to the pair when Luis was giving Hermoso a hug. Rubiales was talking to her and then put his hands on the back of her head and kissed her on the lips. 

Hermoso moved her attention to the next person, and Rubiales patted her twice on the back. 

Rubiales also made headlines for grabbing and shaking his crotch when the final whistle went at Stadium Australia, while standing next to the Queen of Spain and her daughter. He has since issued an apology to the Queen. 

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The moment Rubiales grabbed Hermoso’s head. (Credit: Image: Getty)

What Did Jenni Hermoso Say About The Kiss? 

Spanish newspaper El Mundo shared video footage that Hermoso “didn’t like it”, according to Reuters

However, a statement was later given through the Spanish football federation, where Hermoso initially downplayed the incident. “It was a mutual gesture that was totally spontaneous prompted by the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” the statement read. “The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has always been 10 (out of 10) and this was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”

Hermoso has since said, “I was asked the make a joint statement to alleviate the pressure on the president, but at that moment all I had in my mind was to enjoy the historic milestone achieved with my teammates.”

“I must state that I have been under continuous pressure to make a statement that could justify Mr. Luis Rubiales’ actions.”

Rubiales then gave his version of events, in which he said the kiss was “mutual and with consent”. In a public statement about the controversy, he said “I won’t resign” four times in a row and claimed that the negative press against him was a witch hunt by “false feminists”. 

Rubiales has stated that it was Jenni who picked him up off the ground, so much so that they nearly fell over. “We hugged and I told her, ‘Forget about the penalty. You were fantastic, we wouldn’t have won this World Cup without you.’ She replied to me, ‘You are awesome.’ And I said, ‘A small peck?’ And she said, ‘OK’,” he claims. 

Yet, Jenni’s experience of the event sits in stark contrast to these claims.

“Not in any moment did the conversation occur that Mr Luis Rubiales references, and much less that his kiss was consensual. In the same way I want to reiterate, how I did in that moment, that what happened was not enjoyable,” she said in a statement released through FUTPRO, translated by The Guardian.

She posted a statement to Instagram, reading, “I don’t want to interfere in the legal process, but I feel obliged to report that the words used by Sr Luis Rubiales to explain what happened are categorically untrue and are part of the manipulative culture that he himself has created. I have not been respected.

“I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours. I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.

“Simply put I was not respected.”

Rubiales said he would “fight to the end” for his job. 

Hermoso’s Teammates Stand Behind Her 

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Hermoso’s teammates stand by her. (Credit: Image: Getty)

Despite the ensuing drama, all 22 of Hermoso’s teammates stood behind her. This was alongside a total of 81 Spanish players who signed a letter that they would not accept national team call-ups while Rubiales refused to resign. 

Other players around the world, including Australian Matildas Sam Kerr and Alanna Kennedy spoke out in support of Hermoso. 

Will Luis Rubiales Lose His Job? 

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Jenni Hermoso with the FIFA World Cup ‘golden boot’. (Credit: Image: Getty)

Despite the Spanish football federation at first appearing to support their president, even threatening Hermoso with legal action, Rubiales was placed on a 90-day provisional suspension while FIFA investigates the allegations. 

FIFA also barred Rubiales from contacting the Spanish national football team or Hermoso.

“The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee … has decided today to provisionally suspend Mr Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities at national and international level,” FIFA said in a statement.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respect the integrity of all persons and therefore condemns with the utmost vigour any behaviour to the contrary.”

FIFA is not expected to comment further on the matter until it has been fully investigated. 

Despite the pressure, Rubiales remained steadfast in his choice not to resign.

The Spanish coach, Jorge Vilda, who himself has been embroiled in controversy surrounding an earlier team mutiny, and later resigned, called Rubiales’ conduct “improper”. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Rubiales’ apology speech was “unacceptable” and “not enough”.

The Spanish Football Federation RFEF Call For Rubiales’ Resignation

While it appeared the federation behind the Spanish women’s soccer team, the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) would back their chief to the end, in the early hours of August 29, a statement was released from the federation asking for Rubiales’ resignation. 

TODAY reported that the statement said, after the “unacceptable behaviours that have seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, Mr Rubiales is asked to immediately present his resignation as President.”

It appeared to be a backflip for the institution, which was at war with its players (they refused to be called up for national selection while Rubiales was still in charge). 

There are early reports that prosecutors are looking into the incident to uncover if the kiss amounts to a crime of sexual assault in the eyes of the law. This investigation is ongoing. 

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Rubiales standing with the women’s coach Jorge Vilda. (Credit: Image: Getty)

Luis Rubiales Makes First Public Statement Since He Was Suspended

Rubiales continued to staunchly refuse to resign as the chief of the RFEF, with his mother even going on a hunger strike in protest of his suspension and calls for him to turn in his notice. On September 3, he has delivered another message, the first since his suspension, using strong words to lash out at the way the story has been covered in the media.

“During all this time I have suffered an unprecedented lynching by news outlets and politicians that has completely marginalised me. Not just in Spain but internationally,” in a statement published to X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“I have been deliberately sidelined. But I have presented all the relevant images that show the facts. That evidence will ignore opinions and clear my name,” he continued.

According to 7News, a Spanish government legal panel was set up to investigate Rubiales’ conduct.

Luis Rubiales Resigns

On Sunday, September 10, Luis Rubiales announced his resignation. 

It comes after Spanish state prosecutors filed a complaint with Spain’s high court, suggesting there could be grounds to charge Rubiales with ‘sexual assault and coercion’ on Friday, September 8, according to The Guardian.

“After the rapid suspension carried out by FIFA, plus the rest of the proceedings opened against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position,” Mr Rubiales’ statement read. 

“Insisting on waiting and clinging … is not going to contribute anything positive, neither to the Federation nor to Spanish football. Among other things, because there are de facto powers that will prevent my return,” he added.

“I have faith in the truth and I am going to do everything in my power to make it prevail,” he said.

Mr Rubiales also did a two-hour interview with British broadcaster Piers Morgan, in which he said that friends and family had been key in his decision to resign, with them urging him to “focus [on] your dignity”.

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Jenni Hermoso was not called up for the next national games. (Credit: Image: Getty)

Jenni Hermoso Sensationally Left Out Of National Squad Selection

Despite having her world cup eclipsed by the controversial kiss situation, it seems that it’s not the end of Jenni Hermoso’s woes. 

news.com.au reports that Hermoso has not been called up for the national squad, which is due to play upcoming Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland. The team was selected by the new national coach for women’s soccer, Montse Tome, who is taking over from outgoing coach Jorge Vilda.

 She says that the decision was made with Hermoso’s best interest in mind. 

“We are with Jenni on everything, and with all the players,” added the new coach. “The best way to protect her is like this, I have worked five years with her.”

15 members of the winning World Cup team were selected for the Nations League games, despite the fact that many (39) remain on strike from the RFEF, even following Luis Rubiales’ resignation. They are striking to call for further changes to the federation had been made.

“I trust in that the players are professionals, they have just become champions of the world, they love the national team, and I know they will be here with us tomorrow,” Tome said in a press conference when asked about the striking players.

“Today we start a new era in the national team, that’s something good, beautiful, all players have the chance to be here and all have the same opportunities.”

According to Yahoo! there is some concern about the implications for the striking players that were called up, with Spanish media suggesting it could lead to longer-term bans.

Jenni Hermoso Hits Back At Claims She Was Axed From National Team “To Protect Her”

Jenni Hermoso has hit back at new Spanish women’s soccer coach Montse Tome’s comments that the decision to leave her off the nation’s squad for the upcoming Nations League games was “to protect her”.

“To protect me from what?” she shared in a statement on social media.

“Let’s be clear: a claim was made today stating that the environment within the federation would be safe for my colleagues to rejoin yet at the same press conference it was announced that they were not calling me as a means to protect me,” Hermoso wrote.

“Protect me from what? And from whom? We have been searching for weeks – months, even – for protection from the RFEF that never came,” the 33-year-old striker continued. “The people who now ask us to trust them are the same ones who today disclosed the list of players who have asked NOT to be called up.”

“The players are certain that this is yet another strategy of division and manipulation to intimidate and threaten us with legal repercussions and economic sanctions. It is yet more irrefutable proof that shows that even today, nothing has changed.”

This is, of course, in reference to the fact that 15 players who were on strike were called up anyway for national selection.

Since her comments, new footage has emerged of Spain’s womens team looking subdued as they walked in a line towards their training camp for the Nations League.

According to news.com.au¸ defender Mapi Lion said they should “talk at length about whether we are going to a safe place or not when they are forcing us.”

It was a grim sight to see the World Cup winners in such a state of despair, as they trudged towards their practice.

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(Credit: Image: Getty)

Spanish Soccer Boycott Now Over After Seven Hour Meeting

In sensational news, the Spanish player refusal to be called up for national selection is now over, following negotiations on September 21 with key soccer bodies.

The RFEF has said it will make “immediate and profound changes”, including changes to management in the upper echelons of its management. The decision was made, per Reuters, after seven hours of deliberations involving players, the RFEF, National Sports Council (CSD) and FUTPRO (the union that covers the female players).

It is believed that between six and nine high ranking officials will be asked to leave or sacked. One of the conditions included the removal of the word ‘female’ when referring to the team. From now on all soccer players, male or female, will be known as the “Spanish national football team”.

What this means for Tome’s Spanish squad, due to play in the Nations League, still remains to be seen, as well as whether there will be any changes to Jenni Hermoso being left off the team.

Luis Rubiales Banned From All Football-Related Activities For Three Years

On October 30, 2023, a FIFA Disciplinary Committee agreed that Rubiales should be banned from all football-related activities for a total of three years.

They found that he had breached article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has banned Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF), from all football-related activities at national and international levels for three years, having found that he acted in breach of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code,” FIFA said in a statement on Monday.

“This case relates to the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023, for which Mr Rubiales had been provisionally suspended for an initial period of 90 days.

Rubiales has made his intent to appeal the ruling clear through social media, writing, “I will go to the last resort to see that justice is done and that the truth shines through.”

Luis Rubiales Briefly Detailed By Police In Connection To An Alleged Corruption Scandal Within The RFEF

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Image: Getty

The disgraced former football boss, Luis Rubiales, was briefly detained by Spanish police amid an ongoing corruption investigation.

Spain’s Civil Guard said that he was detained and questioned at Madrid’s airport and was released just a few hours later. ABC News reports that an investigative judge is expected to summon him for further questioning in the coming days.

Rubiales was returning to Spain from what he describes as a business trip in the Dominican Republic. While he was there, police raided offices and properties (including Rubiales’). The raids were carried out in connection to the ongoing corruption probe, which is investigating alleged improper management and money laundering at the soccer HQ.

Seven people were questioned as a part of the investigations, with Rubiales identified as one of five that will be subject to further questioning. Rubiales has denied wrongdoing.

He is simultaneously defending a suit that he allegedly assaulted Jenni Hermoso when he kissed her on stage at the World Cup, with a Spanish prosecutor aiming for jail time.

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