The inappropriate conduct of Luis Rubiales, the Federation President of Spain’s men’s football, has been met with severe backlash and condemnation from the male players, subsequent to his nonconsensual kiss. Rubiales’ ongoing refusal to step down has only further fuelled the controversy.
The men’s team members have publicly communicated their distressed sentiments and empathy towards the players, whose hard-earned reputation has been marred due to this incident. In a strongly worded statement by Alvaro Morata, a forward of the Spanish squad, on behalf of his team, blatantly stated the irresponsibility displayed by Rubiales, who extensively failed to uphold the dignity of the institution he represents.
The team has taken an unambiguous stance in favor of the sport’s inherent moral values, stating that Spanish football must take the lead in demonstrating respect, inspiring inclusion and diversity, and setting an example through their conduct both on and off the field.
Subsequent to Rubiales asserting that he would not resign in his speech, Luis de la Fuente, the head coach of the men’s team, sought apology for applauding the address initially. Despite the heated controversy, de la Fuente declared that he would not relinquish his position.
Following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England at Sydney’s Stadium Australia in late August, Rubiales further incited criticism by making an obscene gesture while celebrating in the VIP area. This occurred in the presence of Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter. Following this, he was provisionally suspended by the world governing body FIFA. Additionally, Spain’s national sports tribunal (TAD) initiated a misconduct case against him.
On 1st September, Rubiales confessed to committing errors, but still maintained his claim of the kiss being consensually enacted, vowing to prove his innocence.
Senior players including Morata, Marco Asensio, Rodri, and Cesar Azpilicueta came together to express their pride over the country’s women’s national team on their triumph at the World Cup in Sydney. They expressed regret that this historic and influential moment had sadly been overshadowed by the controversy.
As the Spanish team prepared for their upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying matches, Morata stated their intention to shift focus back to the sport itself, acknowledging the significance of the forthcoming challenges.
An incident of such nature caused Spanish prosecutors to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if it constitutes sexual assault and led to regional leaders of the football federation demanding Rubiales’ resignation.
Alejandro Blanco, head of Spain’s Olympic Committee, denounced Rubiales’ actions as inappropriate and unaccepted, but insisted that the incident was isolated and not reflective of Spanish sports as a whole.
The controversy has caused turmoil within the staff. Most of the coaching team resigned in protest against Rubiales’ refusal to step down, while all of the 23 World Cup winners, amidst 81 female players, stated they would refrain from playing for the team so long as Rubiales continues his role.
The incident, attracting widespread attention, was disparaged as an impulsive, sexist and non-consensual act by the player Hermoso. Despite immense pressure directed towards her and her close ones to support a statement justifying Rubiales’ behavior, she has firmly stood her ground in advocating that such non-consensual conduct should not be perpetuated in any professional or social setting.