Spain’s women’s soccer team says they won’t play until Luis Rubiales, the Spanish soccer federation president who kissed a player on the lips without her consent during the country’s World Cup victory is removed from his position.
Spain’s Association of Professional Soccer Players said in a translated statement Friday that the team “wants to express their firm and resounding condemnation” of Rubiales’ unsolicited kiss of Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony.
“It fills us with sadness that such an unacceptable event is managing to tarnish the greatest sporting success of Spanish women’s football,” the association wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“After everything that happened during the delivery of medals of the Women’s World Cup, we want to state that all the players who sign this letter will not return to a call of the National Team if the current leaders continue,” the statement said.
Rubiales was passing out gold medals to the team after its 1-0 victory Sunday over England when he kissed Hermoso. FIFA opened an investigation, saying Rubiales’ actions “may constitute violations” of its disciplinary code.
Hermoso was heard telling teammates afterward in the locker room she “didn’t like it” in a video posted on Instagram and YouTube by the newspaper El Mundo and other media outlets.
Rubiales has been heavily criticized by government ministers and the media. Despite the uproar, he has refused to step down, telling an emergency general assembly of the federation “I won’t resign” four times in quick succession and claimed he was a victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists.”
Spain’s government has begun proceedings to suspend Rubiales.
Hermoso said in a statement through the country’s soccer players association that she did not consent to the kiss. Soon after the incident, she was quoted as saying that the kiss was a “mutual gesture” and was a “spontaneous” moment after the team’s win, according to a statement the Spanish soccer federation sent to the Spanish news agency EFE.
But in the Friday statement from Spain’s soccer association, she vigorously denied the kiss was mutual and now suggests that statement was fabricated.
“I want to clarify, that as seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me,” she said in Friday’s statement. “I do not tolerate that my word is questioned and much less that words are invented that I have not said.”
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