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2023 Women's World Cup

Live updates: Soccer world unites to support Hermoso, Spanish players; RFEF responds

Patricia Pérez Ferraro / SPP

Developments continue to unfold following RFEF president Luis Rubiales’ internationally televised and nonconsensual kiss on star striker Jenni Hermoso during the FIFA Women’s World Cup medal ceremony. Bookmark this page to keep up with all the major developments in real time. Below you’ll find links and news updates to the story in reverse chronological order.

*Editor’s note: Some statements have been translated to English and may contain errors.

Sept. 20, 2023

Sept. 18, 2023

A bad situation in Spain gets worse. On Monday, September 18, following the Spanish women’s national team players’ request to not be called up, the Spanish Federation dismissed their appeal and ordered many of them to arrive at training camp regardless, after delivering a hasty statement claiming that the national team environment had improved. The players learned they were being called up against their wishes via social media, and were not given the timely warning mandated by FIFA for national team call-ups. The Federation’s move also implies that future damage will occur if the women don’t comply, as, according to Spanish sports law, the women can be fined or lose their licenses to play if they refuse to show up for a national team engagement. Some players have acknowledged these implicit threats and have publicly addressed that the Federation has placed them in a position for a potential lawsuit.

The Spanish FA Union (AFE) responded to the Federation’s actions, defending the players and excoriating the Federation for their continued mistreatment of the Spanish women players. And Jenni Hermoso herself issued a statement asserting that the women’s football environment in Spain remains unsafe, manipulative, and deceitful, and she will continue to stand up for her teammates who are put in impossible positions by the Federation. Hermoso herself was not called up, in a move to “protect” her, per head coach Monste Tomé.

Sept. 15, 2023

The Spanish women’s national team players have released a statement saying they will not report to any camp until changes are made that ensure “women are respected.” The statement below, shared by all the players on social media, is in Spanish.

Sept. 6, 2023

Jenni Hermoso is taking legal action against Luis Rubiales, who has been suspended by the Spanish federation for forcibly kissing the forward on the lips during the World Cup trophy presentation. Hermoso, according to the Associated Press, has filed charges of sexual assault against Rubiales in Madrid. As the AP reports, “The prosecutors’ office in Madrid said that, according to a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty.”

Aug. 30, 2023

Aleksander Čeferin, president of UEFA, spoke out against Luis Rubiales during a press conference today, stating that Rubiales kissing Hermoso before Spain lifted their world cup trophy was inappropriate. He continued, “He is suspended from all duties. It is not necessary to suspend him twice. That’s enough for now because the disciplinary committee will decide,” Čeferin said.

Aug. 29, 2023

Video showed massive protests in Madrid in support of Jenni Hermoso. Also, according to Colin Millar, Joan Soteras, the president of the Catalan Football Federation — which is part of the Spanish Federation; Catalan is a ‘Romance language’ spoken primarily in Barcelona — called for the removal of Jorge Vilda. “We need structural change in women’s football. Maybe Vilda leaving should be part of that change,” he said.

Aug. 28, 2023

The territorial presidents of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued a statement calling for Rubiales to resign immediately. The statement also urges RFEF leadership to issue a structuring of strategic positions in the Federation in order to “give way to a new state of management in Spanish football.”

Aug. 27, 2023

The RFEF’s Protection Delegate for Sexual Violence Protocol released an official clarification note saying that they have activated their own protocol that is in place and the earlier statements by the RFEF don’t represent, and are not from, the Sexual Violence Advisory Committee.

Aug. 26, 2023

Spain head coach Jorge Vilda released a statement speaking out against Rubiales’ “unacceptable” and “improper behavior.” However, he did not address why he applauded in support of Rubiales during the RFEF hearing on Friday.

Eleven members of Spain’s technical staff issued a statement speaking out against Rubiales’ conduct and claiming that they were forced to attend his hearing on Friday in front of RFEF.

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee provisionally suspended Rubiales, a day after the Spanish government suspended him for his conduct. The committee also ordered Rubiales and the Spanish Football Federation not to contact Hermoso directly or through intermediaries.

Organization statements

United States Women’s National Team Players Association: “We support @jennihermoso, the Spanish players, and all of the other players across the world who are fighting for safe working environments.”

Chicago Red Stars: “The Chicago Red Stars stand with Jenni Hermoso and the players of the Spanish National Team. Jenni and the team’s achievement deserve a celebration that is now overshadowed by the actions of a man and the federation. We’re with you Jenni. #SeAcabo

CÁDIZ: The La Liga team unveiled a banner reading, “We are all Jenni.”

Germany: “We always talk about that we need progression in women’s football. That old structures and views have to finally change and that we have to give the female section a chance. The open letter by the 15 was downplayed by their own federation and displayed as unfounded. We actually have to be thankful now that in exuberance of the World Cup final someone like the RFEF president revealed his true self. It was not only the forced kiss with Jenni Hermoso but also in the abdomen and the carrying of Aitana Bonmati. Should a leader and representative of a federation do something like this? No. Such behavior is not acceptable and it’s even more intolerable that this is getting downplayed, pushed aside and to put the players under pressure. Nobody, absolutely nobody should make this a small thing. It’s unfortunate even though not everyone in the German football society is enlightened enough to correctly judge this. Had there initially been a better awareness regarding abuse of power and discrimination, 12 players probably would not have been robbed to play a World Cup. They have our greatest respect just as everyone who have the courage at pointing at the deficiencies. For a change in women’s football and sports.”

Player statements

Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema, reacting to FIFA’s suspension of Rubiales: “A first step into the right direction. But still waiting for the UEFA to do the right thing. The RFEF needs looking into and it’s time to rebuild and create a safe environment for everyone. We can’t allow this to ever happen again. We’re all with you @Jennihermoso

American defender Becky Sauerbrunn: “We’re with you, @Jennihermoso. Nothing but respect, solidarity and support for you and all of the incredible women taking a stand against these shameful people and their sexist and misogynistic indignities.”

Coach statements

San Diego Wave head coach Casey Stoney: “MISSING: Has anyone seen or heard from @UEFA? The players and our sport deserve better. Do the right thing!! You have a unique opportunity to stand up and show the world your values. WHAT ARE THEY? #ContigoJenni

Spain men’s national team head coach Luis de la Fuente:

FC Barcelona head coach Xavi: “Firstly, unconditional support for Jenni & players in the women’s game. Secondly, condemn the behaviour of the RFEF president, which was totally unacceptable. Thirdly, I express sadness that it has taken away from the historic World Cup win.”

Aug. 25, 2023

Rubiales appeared in front of RFEF and refused to resign. Victor Francos, president of CSD and secretary of sport, announced that the government would suspend Rubiales and summon him to appear before the Spanish Court of Arbitration in Sport.

There were protests against Rubiales in front of RFEF’s headquarters:

Jenni Hermoso statement

Organization statements

Asociación de Futbolistas Profesionales (FUTPRO) – All 23 players from Spain’s 2023 FIFA World Cup winning squad, plus an additional past and future 33 Spanish internationals, condemn Rubiales actions, support Hermoso, and announce they “will not return for a call-up for the National Team if the current leaders continue.”

In response, RFEF released their own statement attempting to discredit Hermoso’s statements by taking split-second stills from the same world feed we all watched to try and prove that Rubiales’ actions were consensual. They claim this proves Rubiales is telling the truth and Hermoso is not. As a result, they are pursuing corresponding legal action against Hermoso. They end their message with a threat of legal action against the players who are supporting her, noting that “participation in the selection is an obligation of all federated people if they are called for it.”

Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels: “After the extraordinary general assembly of the Spanish football federation today, FIFPRO again calls for immediate disciplinary action against the federation president Luis Rubiales following his behaviour at the FIFA Women’s World Cup final. We welcome FIFA’s decision to open an ethics case, and steps taken at national level in Spain. Furthermore, we have written to UEFA the organisation of which Mr. Rubiales is a vice-president – requesting that it starts disciplinary proceedings. Any lack of action by authorities in addressing the conduct of Mr. Rubiales would send an entirely unacceptable and damaging message to the football industry and wider society.”

OL Reign: “All of us at OL Reign stand in full support with @Jennihermoso and the players of the Spanish National team. We recognize that the fight for justice and equity is as central to our jobs as the game itself. Your fight is ours.”

Gotham FC: Gotham FC stands with Jenni Hermoso and the Spanish Women’s National Team players. We celebrate their spectacular play and monumental achievement of winning the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Mr. Rubiales has tainted and overshadowed the Spanish Women National Team’s moment by his unacceptable conduct. We condemn him and the inaction of those in power who fail to hold him accountable. We join the global soccer community in using our voice to help end abuse in the women’s game. Every athlete deserves a safe environment free from offensive, abusive, or hostile behavior from anyone, but especially from those in positions of power.
Anything less is inconsistent with the values of Gotham FC and the community we represent. Let’s spotlight Jenni, her teammates, and the extraordinary athletes like them. We vow to protect and elevate them.

England Lionesses: Unacceptable actions allowed to happen by a sexist and patriarchal organization. Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth. The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people shouldn’t need convincing to take action against any form of harassment. We all stand with you, @jennihermoso and all players of the Spanish team.”

Iberia Airline, a sponsor of the RFEF: “Iberia has always supported and will continue to support talent, sport and Spanish football, which is our role as sponsors, among others, of the @RFEF . In any case, when offensive situations occur, inappropriate for a developed, modern and egalitarian society such as Spain’s, Iberia supports the appropriate and pertinent measures that must be taken to preserve the rights and dignity of athletes.”

Player statements

Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas: “Esto es inaceptable. Se acabó. Contigo compañera @Jennihermoso

Swedish footballer and FC Barcelona forward Fridolina Rolfö: “No-one should ever have to fight in their place of work for respect, to feel safe or for their basic human rights. Things have to change. I stand with @Jennihermoso and the Spanish team.”

American forward Alex Morgan: “I’m disgusted by the public actions of Luis Rubiales. I stand by @Jennihermoso and the Spanish players. Winning a World Cup should be one of the best moments in these players’ lives but instead it’s overshadowed by assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation.”

San Diego Wave players visually shared a message of support during their NWSL regular-season match against the Orlando Pride, wearing tape on their wrists reading “contigo jenni.”

Liga MX players did the same.

Aug. 24, 2023

Multiple reports state that Rubiales is expected to resign during a special session with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Friday. FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee opened an investigation against Rubiales, stating “the events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter. FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”

Aug. 21, 2023

Rubiales released a video apologizing for his action, saying that it “has somewhat tarnished the celebration” of Spain’s first title.

Aug. 20, 2023

Spain defeated England to win the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup title. During the post-match medal ceremony, Spanish striker Jenni Hermoso was given her medal, shook hands with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and hugged Spanish Queen Letizia. However, when she made her way to Spanish Federation president Luis Rubiales, Hermoso was greeted with an unwanted and nonconsensual kiss on the lips.

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