May 24, 2024

Jenni Hermoso is not responsible for Luis Rubiales’ behaviour

Jenni Hermoso, who played a vital role in Spain’s victory at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, should be celebrating. Instead, she is dealing with the aftermath of being kissed, without her consent, on live television by Luis Rubiales, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

Jenni Hermoso at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023.

Along with the world players’ union FIFPRO, Jenni has called for action to be taken against Rubiales. Pressure is building for his dismissal: Spain’s women’s football league, Liga F, has lodged a complaint with the president of the National Sports Council (CSD) over his “very serious actions and behaviour,” noting, “For a boss to grab his employee by the head and kiss her on the mouth simply cannot be tolerated. ” FIFA has also confirmed that it’s opening disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales.

In the wake of the incident, Jenni has also been under pressure. Through no fault of her own, she’s become responsible for calling out Rubiales’ behaviour – as well as facing internal pressure not to make a big deal out of it. On Sunday, Jenni said on a live stream that she “did not like” being kissed by Rubiales, which appeared at odds with her apparent statement released later (via the Royal Spanish Football Federation, [RFEF]) claiming it “was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude. ”

Rubiales apologised on Monday, saying his actions were “completely wrong. ” This came after he told Spanish broadcaster COPE that anyone who interpreted the incident as anything other than «a kiss between two friends celebrating something» were “idiots and stupid people. ”

Rubiales is alleged to have pressured Jenni to release a joint video statement about the incident, which she rejected. Jorge Vilda, the Spanish head coach, is also reported to have approached Hermoso’s family to try and persuade her to publicly support Rubiales. He is yet to speak publicly on this matter.

From the outset, Hermoso was forced to assume responsibility for the consequences of Rubiales’ actions as people in positions of power scrambled to take control of the narrative. Did anyone stop to ask how she was feeling?

Any woman who has suffered at the hands of such machismo understands how powerless it can make you feel. You don’t want to make more noise; you just want to forget it ever happened. Now imagine it happened on the world stage, with your entire country (and the rest of the world) watching. Who could think clearly under such circumstances? Who should have to?

Despite everything, it seems that Rubiales (and many of his colleagues) are doing everything in their power to ride out the scandal. However, Rubiales, whose tenure at the Spanish Federation has been embroiled in many scandals, could finally be on the verge of stepping down over this incident. But make no mistake, if he resigns or is dismissed over the incident, it will only be because the world was watching.

Yes, we must call for an end to the machismo culture thriving within Spanish sport and if Jenni wants to lead the way? We’ll follow. But that’s her choice – nobody else’s.

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