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The Rubiales Kiss & 11 Other Cases Of Football's Die-Hard Machismo And Sexual Aggression

A coach who trivializes a gang rape, a ballon d'or winner who is asked if she knows how to twerk, Spanish national team players chanting "bottle blonde..." When Luis Rubiales kissed Jennifer Hermoso without her consent, it was just the latest example of how the male-dominated sport hasn't changed with the times. In Spain, and beyond...

Luis Rubiales kisses Jennifer Hermoso while holding the back of her head
Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales kissing football player Jennifer Hermoso without her consent.
Óscar F. Civieta

This article was updated Aug. 24 at 12:15 p.m


MADRID — By now, many have seen the image from Sunday night: After Spain's national team won the Women's World Cup, Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales kissed football player Jennifer Hermoso without her consent. Finally, after 24 hours of international media coverage and a request for explanations from Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, Rubiales has admitted in a video that "certainly" he made a mistake.

Still, the statement has been widely criticized after Rubiales downplayed his behavior and argued that it occurred in "a moment of extreme euphoria, without any bad intentions, without any bad faith, and what happened, happened. In a very spontaneous way, I repeat, without bad faith on either side."

It is of course a meaningless statement since it was Rubiales who kissed Hermoso after holding her face with both hands, something that the female player in the locker room right afterwards said she couldn't stop and didn't like.

What images you may have not seen yet, is another video that went viral showing Rubiales celebrating in the VIP box after the national team's victory by grabbing his genitals.

Late Wednesday, El Pais reports, the FUTPRO women players' union issued a joint statement with Hermoso to confirm that it would be representing her in the matter, calling for "exemplary measures" to be taken against Rubiales and declaring their "firm and resounding condemnation of conduct that violates the dignity of women." The Spanish women's league on Wednesday called Rubiales' actions "disgusting" and demanded his resignation.

This display of machismo by the president of the Spanish Football Federation is by no means an isolated case in a sport that, despite having modernized in many respects, continues to live in the past. COPE radio commentator Manolo Lama quipped that those who complained about Rubiales' kiss of Hermoso did so because they had not been kissed themselves.

Indeed, both in Spanish and international football, there are many examples of antiquated attitudes towards women, whether from coaches, managers, footballers or journalists. Here are just some of the recent episodes that have taken place, either in Spain or around the world.

Ivana Andres decends the airplane stairs with the Spanish national teams trophy, followed by Jorge Vilda and Luis Rubiales

La Roja coach Jorge Vilda, President of the Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales and national team captain Ivana Andres land at the airport in Madrid, Spain, August 21, 2023.

Josua Ruiz/ZUMA

Gang-rape analogy

1. Also during the celebration of the World Cup, the national team's coach, Jorge Vilda, claimed that they were "campeones," champions in the Spanish masculine. Twitter turned on him to remind him that they are female champions, “campeonas”.

2. On Sunday, after the La Liga Hypermotion (Spanish Second Division) match between Sporting de Gijón and Mirandés, Miguel Ángel Ramírez, the Gijón coach, said that "the goal is like the girls in a club, the closer you get to them, the more they move away, and when you ignore them, they touch you from behind and say 'hey, what's up'."

It's normal for the coach to sleep with the players.

3. An audio unveiled in January last year by Cadena SER, recorded the coach of Rayo’s women’s team, Carlos Santiso, saying: “This staff is incredible, but there are things we still lack. We still need, I still say it, to do something like what those from Arandina did, (in reference to the footballers from the Spanish third division team Arandina CF sentenced for the gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl). We need to grab a girl, but over 18, so we don’t get ourselves into trouble, and screw her there all together. That’s what really brings a staff, a team, together. Look at the Arandina lot: they went straight up.”

4. In the middle of the just-completed Women’s World Cup, The Guardian published an article in which a Zambian national team player claimed that if her coach, Bruce Mwape, wanted to sleep with someone, they had to give consent: "It's normal for the coach to sleep with the players in our team," she said. Shortly afterward, it was revealed that Mwape was under investigation for allegedly fondling one of his players' breasts.

Do you know how to twerk?

5. In the first edition of the women's Ballon d'Or in 2018, the winner was Norway's Ada Hegerberg. After collecting the trophy, the gala's entertainer, DJ Martin Solveig, asked her if she knew how to twerk.

6. One of the key players behind Spain's World Cup victory, Salma Paralluelo, also experienced an unpleasant moment when she was honored by Sociedad Deportiva Huesca after winning the Under-17 World Cup. There was neither a kick-off nor a salute to the captains, as customary, and Luismi Lasaosa, brother of the then president of the entity, was seen asking for the event to end quickly: "You give it to her and that's it, come on." The Steaua Bucharest president went much further in 2018 by stating that women "were created to be pretty and attract the opposite sex" and that it was "wrong" to let them play football.

My girlfriend is a whore

7. Several players have been the protagonists of reproachful moments that have been made public. For example, former Betis goalkeeper Antonio Adán, after a victory of his team against Sevilla in 2018, chanted "mi novia es sevillista y es una puta más" (my girlfriend is a Sevilla FC fan and a whore as well).

8. Although no footage is available, the Association of Professional Journalists in the Galicia region reported that the players of the Spanish National Team chanted "rubia de bote, cómeme el cipote" (bottle blonde, eat my dick) to Dnoe, a reporter of the program Estas no son las noticias, who was trying to interview them while they were on the team bus.

Carlos Santiso, head coach of Rayo Vallecano, speaks with footballer Paula Fernandez

Carlos Santiso, head coach of Rayo Vallecano, talks to Paula Fernandez during the Spanish women league on the November 18, 2020, Madrid, Spain. Audio recordings revealed that Santiso suggested gang-raping a woman to improve team cohesion.

Oscar J. Barroso/ZUMA

Blame the woman

9. COPE radio, while broadcasting a Betis-Sevilla match, referred to the fact that Sevilla's coach, Julen Lopetegui, was wearing a damp tracksuit. One of the commentators said the following: "Blame the woman, because she has to have tracksuit A ready and tracksuit B ironed." Former Betis player and commentator Poli Rincón replied, "On that, yes, I'm with you."

10. It would be interesting to hear the opinion of the renowned radio journalist José María García about the victory of the Spanish National Team in the Women's World Cup. García indeed once said that "the only thing more tiresome than a cycling competition is watching a women's football match. It is farce. They have no strength. What percentage of First Division players can score from a corner?"

11. In 2015, the Equo Women's Network condemned football commentator Javier Mérida, after he shared his opinion on a talk show on Radio Marca Sevilla’s sports program La Futbolería: "if you hit your wife after two drinks, that's not an aggression or anything."

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Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
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