Spanish prime minister condemns FA president over ‘unacceptable’ kiss at Women’s World Cup final

Rubiales’ position as head of the Spanish FA is under increasing pressure

Lawrence Ostlere
Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:27 BST
Moment Spanish FA president kisses Spain's Jenni Hermoso on the lips after World Cup win

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The prime minister of Spain has stepped into the sexism storm surrounding the country’s football federation president Luis Rubiales, calling his actions at the Women’s World Cup final “unacceptable” and demanding a full explanation.

Rubiales has been condemned from Spanish politicians across the board for his behaviour in Sydney on Sunday, where he watched Spain beat England 1-0 to win the tournament. At full-time, Rubiales was caught grabbing his crotch in an aggressive celebration, before he later handled several players on the presentation stage and kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips.

Hermoso said she “did not like that” but Rubiales tried to dismiss the incident as “mutual and spontaneous” before caving to pressure and issuing an apology. Even then, he did not acknowledge the seriousness of his actions, simply saying: “It seems like it has caused a commotion as it seemed to do damage, so I want to apologise for it.”

Rubiales’ position as head of the Spanish FA is under increasing pressure. Yolanda Diaz, the second deputy prime minister of Spain, demanded he resign because “a woman has been harassed and assaulted”, while Irene Montero, the minister for equality, described the unwanted kiss as a “form of sexual violence”.

Now the country’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez has criticised Rubiales’ actions and his account of events.

“What we saw was an unacceptable gesture,” Sanchez told a press conference on Tuesday. “Rubiales’ apologies are not enough, I think they are inadequate. He has to continue taking steps to clarify what we all saw.”

The Independent has reported in detail on Rubiales’ chequered history, including allegations of using federation money to pay for orgies, something he denies.

The Spanish media has been widely critical of Rubiales. Newspaper El Pais ran an editorial lamenting how a moment of glory for Spain’s women footballers has been overshadowed by the behaviour of a man.

The crisis has been compounded by footage appearing to show the team’s manager, Jorge Vilda, touching the breast of one of his coaching staff during the World Cup final. Vilda has not commented on the incident.

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