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The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

The Kiss Overshadowing the Women’s World Cup

How drama inside Spain’s footballing association is taking away from their World Cup victory
Credit: Getty Images
Spain’s captain Alexia Putellas refuses to speak to her coach Jorge Vilda after being subbed off. Putellas has been outspoken in her anger with the coaching staff and footballing federation.

As the Spanish players and fans celebrated the team’s victory in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, a video of the Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales kissing Spanish captain Jennifer Hermoso began to take the world by storm. 

On August 20, Spanish defender Olga Carmona slotted home a goal in the 29th minute of the match to give Spain a one-to-zero win over England in the Women’s World Cup final. As the members of La Roja were being presented with their gold medals, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso with two hands and pulled her in for a kiss.  

Outrage ensued as many called for Rubiales’ resignation as Spanish FA President. Three days after Spain’s victory, Rubiales spoke at an emergency general assembly meeting for the football federation. 

What followed was an enraged Rubiales repeatedly yelling, “I will not resign.”* Rubiales also claimed that the kiss was merely a peck and completely consensual according to CBS Sports. This outburst not only utterly shocked the millions of viewers watching at home but also the footballing federation who expected to announce the official departure of Rubiales later that week. 

In unprecedented fashion, all 23 members of the World Cup winning squad along with 58 former players co-signed a statement stating they will not play for Spain while Rubiales holds the position of Spanish FA President. 

Rubiales also commented that he would offer Spanish head coach Jorge Vilda a new four-year contract worth €500,000 a year.

As a soccer fan and as a woman, I feel slightly violated because this was supposed to be Spain and Women’s football’s big moment. It wasn’t completely erased, but it was definitely overshadowed,

— Zion Bennett

Vilda, himself, has been at the center of controversy since last September following complaints by 15 members of the team over “poor management” according to ESPN

Alexia Putellas, a star player for La Roja, spoke out in an interview with Marca about how the situation with Vilda affected her ability to play for her team. 

“There are many countries who have spent time with disputes. That saps your energy when the player only wants to focus on training, looking after themselves, prepare properly, and leave everything on the pitch.” 

Luis Rubiales has been an outspoken supporter of Jorge Vilda since he was appointed head coach in 2015. During Rubiales’ speech, Vilda appeared to cheer along with the spectators present as he reinforced his claim of a consensual kiss. 

On September 3rd, a statement was released by the Royal Spanish Football Federation announcing the immediate firing of Jorge Vilda. In an interview with Spanish radio podcast El Larguero, Vilda spoke about his unbelievable stretch of days. 

“The explanation was structural changes … “I’ve given 100% and I don’t understand it,” said Vilda. 

Now, Montsé Tomé will take over as head coach for the reigning World Cup champions. She has been Vilda’s assistant since 2017. She becomes the first woman ever to be a head coach for La Roja and looks to prepare the squad for the upcoming Nations League and the 2024 Olympic Games. 

In possibly the most significant development of the entire saga, Jenni Hermoso has legally filed a complaint against Luis Rubiales’s unsolicited kiss. According to CNN, prosecutors have now begun to investigate and accuse Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion.    

Hermoso released a 748-word statement to her social media in which she expressed her opinion on the situation and the severity of the issue. 

“I want to conclude by making it very clear that while it is I who is expressing these words, it is all the players from Spain and around the world who have given me the strength to come out with this statement. In the face of such a display of disrespect and inability to recognize one’s own mistakes and take responsibility, I state here and now to everyone of my decision not to play for the National Team again while the current leaders remain.”

Sophomore varsity soccer player Zion Bennett talked about what the situation means to her. 

“As a soccer fan and as a woman, I feel slightly violated because this was supposed to be Spain and Women’s football’s big moment. It wasn’t completely erased, but it was definitely overshadowed,” Zion said. 

Zion elaborated on how monumental this moment is for soccer but also for women in general. Jenni Hermoso speaking her truth and standing up for herself shows to women and girls around the world that actions like this shouldn’t be normalized or swept under the rug. 

Zion thoroughly backed the decision to have Rubiales removed from office and noted that there is much more going on behind the scenes in these positions of power in soccer that should be public.  

Hackley soccer coach and computer science teacher Dan Shaw is an avid fan of soccer and was deeply saddened by what transpired. 

“It’s pretty sad because it is probably the most successful Women’s World Cup in terms of viewership and popularity and then it was completely marred in the celebrations by the act. “

Mr. Shaw gave his view on what the end resolution should be in the case of Rubiales and the Spanish FA and how to prevent these types of situations from reoccurring in the future. 

“The main takeaway is the players need support because the footballing federations isn’t giving it to them. There has to be a complete overhaul of the Spanish footballing system and the way they approach women’s football. There has to be more time taken to look into the footballing federations of other countries to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.” 

On September 9th, after weeks of heated opposition, Luis Rubiales finally resigned from his position as Spanish FA President.  In a statement, Rubiales elaborates on his decision and his future. 

I have faith in the truth and I am going to do everything in my power so it prevails.” 

World Cup champion Hermoso and Rubiales continue to face off with the whole world as an audience. Rubiales will continue to preach his side of the story while Hermoso fights for what she believes to be justice for the wrongdoing against her. 

*All of the quotations in this article are translated from Spanish by other news sources that were used in the research for this article. 

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