It’s tragic this World Cup will only be remembered for one thing

Spain’s sexist football boss Luis Rubiales needs to resign over that kiss and crotch grab – right now

Gemma Abbott
Saturday 26 August 2023 11:42 BST
Spanish FA president kissing midfielder 'ruined' World Cup final, says Lioness Jess Carter

Spontaneous, mutual and consensual”. That’s how Spanish football federation boss Luis Rubiales has described that kiss he planted on Jenni Hermoso’s mouth last weekend.

Even after a statement from Hermoso and her union Futpro calling for measures against Rubiales, he flat-out refused to acknowledge his error.

During a chaotic press conference this morning, Rubiales also found himself having to apologise to the entire Spanish royal family, who were sitting near him in the presidential box as he felt a similarly spontaneous – and equally inexplicable – urge to grab his own crotch in celebration of his country winning the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

In the face of mounting pressure to step down from his role, Rubiales shouted at reporters, “I am not going to resign” a total of four times. He went on to describe a “witch hunt” of “false feminism”, taking a very defensive, unapologetic position on the incident.

As I look at the words he used in that press conference, I find it hard to understand exactly what Rubiales means by “false” feminism. Maybe he’d step down if he felt it was “true” feminism.

What is far more clear is what he means by using the phrase “witch hunt”. Rubiales is in effect saying he feels his views are being construed as unorthodox by the majority of society and believes he is being persecuted for holding those views.

The thing is, he’s right. In a sense. In asserting what I can only describe as his misogynist views (though he’s denied this) and anti-feminist reaction to this whole situation, he is very much in the social minority.

Does he deserve to be persecuted for it? No. Should he take note of the extreme reaction to his views and actions, have a long hard think about them, apologise for offending 50 per cent of the global population, and step quietly and humbly away from football forever? Yes.

For me, the kiss and the crotch grab are one and the same thing. It’s just quite astonishing that he did both in the space of a few minutes, in front of hundreds of cameras, not to mention his reigning monarch!

In my opinion, both actions represent an outward manifestation of the inner mindset of this man, and it’s really not a complicated mindset to unpick. It’s a mindset ruled by ego, driven by misogyny, and with a total and utter disregard for socially acceptable behaviour as a male human being. It’s not uncommon among the upper echelons of international football – and, more specifically, Fifa.

Crotch-grabbing is a very strange way to celebrate anything, isn’t it? But to do it so brazenly when seated next to the Queen and her daughter surely says something deeper about a person.

So why apologise for one but not the other? I think there are two reasons.

Firstly, once Rubiales apologises for both errors of judgement (and that’s me being kind), he will almost certainly have to step down. It is an absolute admission of gross misconduct, and he will go.

Secondly, there is only one thing ego-driven, misogynists defer to and that is superior power. I honestly think it was a stroke of luck that Rubiales was sitting next to the Queen. I’m not so sure that apology would have come as quickly, or at all, had the woman been anyone but a member of the royal family. I guess we’ll never know.

But in singling out Rubiales, let’s not pretend this is a problem unique to Spanish football. This kind of abhorrent, sexist behaviour runs like a barbed wire through all levels of society. It happens every single day in workplaces, bars, clubs, playgrounds, from grassroots to professional sports, and in our homes, all around the world.

You know whose opinion I’d really love to hear on all this? The Queen of Spain’s. As a prime witness to both crude displays, I wonder how appalled she feels by it all. And I wonder what she thinks he should do now.

I’m pretty sure she’s inwardly cursing (in the way only royals do). I mean, talk about ruining the moment! A nation celebrating winning its first women’s World Cup is suddenly faced with a global scandal. Well done, Senor Rubiales. You certainly ensured Spanish football made the headlines.

Sadly, most people will remember the controversial aftermath of this particular World Cup final and not the game itself.

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