US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has spoken out and strongly criticized the behavior of Luis Rubiales following Spain’s World Cup victory on Sunday.
Rubiales, the president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF), was seen giving Spain star Jennifer Hermoso an unwanted kiss on the lips after the 33-year-old received her gold medal following the team’s Women’s World Cup final win against England.
“It made me think about how much we are required to endure,” Rapinoe told The Atlantic when asked about the kiss and the issues surrounding La Roja before the tournament. “Think how much that Spanish team had to shoulder: some of the players who stood up way back last year [to protest against mistreatment] still aren’t on the team.
In September 2022, 15 members of Spain’s senior women’s squad sent personally signed letters to the RFEF via email to announce they would no longer play for the national team, unless there were wholesale changes made throughout the coaching staff, as reported by Spanish outlet Cadena Ser.
However, RFEF backed head coach Jorge Vilda, and all but three of the 15 players who sent letters missed out on Spain’s triumphant World Cup campaign.
“Maybe that was something that galvanized them [to win the final], but you shouldn’t have to have that,” added Rapinoe, who also told The Atlantic that the actions of Rubiales after Spain won the World Cup signal the “deep level of misogyny and sexism” in the Spanish federation and Rubiales himself.
The furore surrounding Rubiales was sparked by video showing him embracing Hermoso, then putting both hands on her head before kissing her. He then pats her on the back as she walks away.
“What kind of upside-down world are we in? On the biggest stage, where you should be celebrating, Jenni [Hermoso] has to be physically assaulted by this guy,” Rapinoe continued.
Rapinoe’s comments come amid increasing pressure on Rubiales.
On Tuesday, a day after Rubiales apologized and admitted he “made a mistake” kissing Hermoso, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Rubiales’ apology was “not enough.”
“It is true that there has been some behavior, in this case of Mr. Rubiales, which shows that in our country there is still a long way to go in terms of equality and respect and in this equalization of rights between women and men,” Sánchez said.
“The apologies made by Mr. Rubiales are not enough. I even think that they are not appropriate and that, therefore, Mr.
Rubiales needs to continue to take steps to clarify what we all saw.”
The president of the Spanish government’s High Council of Sport (CSD) has also spoken on the incident and says he will take action against Rubiales if the RFEF fails to do so.
On Tuesday, RFEF called an extraordinary general assembly – set for Friday – to deal with the fallout of Rubiales giving Hermoso the unwanted kiss.
Speaking to the “El Larguero” program on Spanish outlet Cadena SER later on Tuesday, CSD president Victor Francos said the council is willing to get involved after receiving three formal complaints about Rubiales’ actions.