Women's Team Refuses to Play Over Postgame Kiss

Move comes as Spain's soccer boss says he won't step down
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2023 4:55 PM CDT
Women's Team Refuses to Play Over Postgame Kiss
Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish soccer federation, addresses an emergency meeting in Las Rozas on Friday.   (Real Federaci?n Espa?ola de F?tbol/Europa Press via AP)

The president of Spain's soccer federation has defended his kiss of a player after the national team's victory in the World Cup by saying it was consensual. Jenni Hermoso answered that on Friday, the BBC reports. "I want to clarify, that at no time did I consent to the kiss," Hermoso said in a statement released by her union. The document was signed by 81 players, including all 23 members of the championship team, and included an ultimatum. "After everything that happened during the delivery of medals of the Women's World Cup," the statement says, "we want to state that all the players who sign this letter will not return to a call for the national team if the current leaders continue."

Luis Rubiales has refused to step down, telling an emergency meeting of the Spanish soccer federation on Friday: "It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That's the key. A consensual 'peck' is enough to get me out of here?" He said that during the postgame celebration, he asked Hermoso for "a little kiss" and that she said yes. The kiss, which was on the mouth, was the same he'd give to his daughters, Rubiales said, per the AP. He told the assembly he is the victim of a witch hunt by "false feminists," drawing the applause of the mostly male audience, per the AP.

In her statement, Hermoso contradicted his speech. "I don't tolerate that my word is questioned, much less that words are invented that I haven't said," she said. When Rubiales refused to quit, a federation vice president in charge of women's soccer announced his own resignation, as did at least two other members of the federation, per the AP. The coaches of the national men's and women's teams supported Rubiales, the first public backing he's received this week. FIFA already is investigating the case, and Spain's secretary of sport said Friday that Rubiales could be suspended if he fails to convince an administrative court that he did not violate the professional sports code. (More Women's World Cup stories.)

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