Jenni Hermoso, the attacking midfielder on Spain’s World Cup champion team, broke her silence Wednesday, urging action in a joint statement with her players’ union after she was on the receiving end of a kiss from Spain football federation president Luis Rubiales.
FUTPRO, the union that represents women’s players in Spain, appealed to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to ensure the rights of the players after Rubiales kissed Hermoso without her consent during the awards ceremony after Sunday’s World Cup final.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
Government officials have called for Rubiales to resign following the manner of his behaviour after Spain beat England 1-0 in Sydney, while acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called Rubiales’ belated apology “insufficient and inadequate.”
“My union, FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency, TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter,” Hermoso said in a statement on Wednesday.
FUTPRO called the incidents involving Rubiales “acts that should never go unpunished” and said it would work to “sanction and adopt measures to protect the players against actions we believe are unacceptable.”
The union also called on the corresponding government agencies to take measures against sexism, harassment and workplace abuse in sport that put women’s athletes in vulnerable positions.
“We ask the RFEF to implement the necessary protocols and to ensure the rights of our players and adopt exemplary measures.
“It is essential that our national team is represented by figures that project its values of equality and respect in all areas,” the statement said.
“It is necessary to continue advancing in the fight for equality, a fight that our female players have led with determination, bringing us to the position we are in today.”
Rubiales has also been criticised for the way he hugged and kissed other players on the cheek in the celebrations that followed the final, while he grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture with 16-year-old Infanta Sofía and Queen Letizia of Spain standing nearby.
On Wednesday, the fallout continued with the Spanish players’ association (AFE) and Liga F both demanding Rubiales resign.
FIFPRO, the worldwide representative organisation for all professional footballers, later issued a statement supporting the AFE.
“FIFPRO fully endorses the statement of the AFE in calling for immediate action to address the conduct of Rubiales at the final and is requesting an investigation of his actions under FIFA’s code of ethics,” a statement said.
“We reiterate that it was deeply lamentable that such a special moment for the players of the Spain team taking place before a global television audience should be stained by the inappropriate conduct of an individual in a role carrying so much responsibility.
“Uninitiated and uninvited physical approaches towards players are not appropriate or acceptable in any context, and especially not when they are put in a position of vulnerability by a person who holds a position of power over them in their workplace.”
The RFEF have called a meeting for Friday. Although the agenda did not initially include a space to consider Rubiales’ antics after the final, sources indicated it will be discussed.
Rubiales, 46, initially refused to apologise, saying those offended were “idiots,” but later said sorry in a short video filmed as the Spain team returned from Australia.
Hermoso, who plays her club football in Mexico with Pachuca, said on an Instagram Live video that she did not like the kiss, but later released a statement through the RFEF downplaying the incident.
A report in Relevo claimed the RFEF had fabricated the statement and the words were not Hermoso’s, although an RFEF spokesman said that was “completely false” and the issue was with the body’s legal department.
Any decision about Rubiales’ future at RFEF rests with the federation or Spain’s highest sports tribunal, TAD.