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Spanish football cannot continue with Luis Rubiales at the helm

The RFEF president’s behavior is beyond the pale

Spanish Prime Minister Receives Women’s World Cup Winners Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

“I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign.”

Those were the defiant words of Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation), as calls mounted for him to resign for his treatment of the Spanish women’s team.

The Spanish women’s team dazzled at the FIFA World Cup, winning the tournament and dominating the final. It’s a shame that their win was marred by Rubiales himself, who gave an unsolicited kiss on the lips to one of the players, Jenni Hermoso.

Irene Montero, Spain’s government minister for equality, said it was “a form of sexual violence women suffer on a daily basis.”

Hermoso said in a livestream, that she “didn’t like it.”

However, a statement by the federation later quoted Hermoso as saying “it was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings.”

It is now believed those words were not actually hers, but rather invented by the federation in a desperate attempt to save face.

“My union, FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency, TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter,” the player said directly.

FUTPRO has taken a harsh stance against Rubiales’s actions, saying they are a part of “acts that should never go unpunished.”

FIFA has opened a disciplinary case against Rubiales, and there is mounting pressure from Spain’s leading institutions against him.

Players are united in backing Hermoso, who played for FC Barcelona last year but now is a part of Pachuca.

Notably, two of Spain’s biggest stars weighed in.

“This is unacceptable, it’s over,” said Alexia Putellas, the reigning Ballon d’Or.

“There are limits that cannot be crossed, and we can’t accept that,” said Aitana Bonmatí, who won the Golden Ball at the World Cup.

But their messages weren’t isolated, with many other players giving Hermoso their full support.

Despite this, Rubiales’s defiance seems to have backing of its own. Remember his words at the press conference, “I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign”?

Those words received applause from many in the audience, including men’s coach Luis de la Fuente and women’s coach Jorge Vilda.

Many players have had a longstanding problem with Vilda. Some even went as far as boycotting the World Cup so long as he was in charge.

Even some who didn’t boycott the World Cup gave support to those that did, clearly showing a displeasure with both Vilda and the Spanish federation at large. They felt they were not given the respect or resources they deserved, but they were unwilling to forgo a chance to win the World Cup.

The fact that they won, however, paradoxically convinced some that the federation and the coach must have been doing something right. But what were Spain’s extremely talented players to do? They wanted to win and to represent their country. It’s not their fault they’ve been put between a rock and a hard place.

It feels particularly cruel for Rubiales to then parachute in and try to claim the spotlight after so many players felt he had not backed them enough. It obviously got much worse when he decided it was his right to assault someone. For the federation to then make up a quote by the player in order to excuse his own bad behavior seems like adding insult to injury to the point of ridiculousness.

The Spanish women are right: enough is enough.

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