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Casey Stoney blasts Spain federation: ‘What goes on behind closed doors?’

(Jamie Sabau/USA TODAY Sports)

San Diego Wave head coach Casey Stoney again called out Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales for his forced kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup, which she described as “completely inappropriate.”

“If you are prepared to do that on the world stage in front of millions, what goes on behind closed doors?” she asked of the Spanish federation before asking the sport’s governing bodies to intervene.

Rubiales has come under fire for his actions following Spain’s 1-0 win over England in the World Cup final, which included the kiss and also grabbing his crotch in celebration. While Hermoso initially downplayed the kiss, the 33-year-old midfielder has since called for action against Rubiales in a statement released in conjunction with her agency and the Spanish players’ union.

FIFA has opened an investigation into Rubiales’ actions, it announced in a statement released Thursday.

Stoney, who already had condemned the Spanish soccer federation president’s kiss of Hermoso, weighed in again Wednesday, drawing a line between the gesture and the broader issue of player-staff relationships. Team staff members “should not be having relationships with players at all,” she said, calling such relationships something that she “absolutely despises” despite having seen them happen repeatedly in the sport.

“You shouldn’t be socializing with players anyway,” she said. “You shouldn’t even be putting yourself in that position. … Don’t come into work and prey on vulnerable women who you are responsible for their contracts or medical or whatever it is, whatever role you play. Don’t have a relationship with players.”

The controversy surrounding Rubiales comes on top of a longstanding dispute between Spanish players and the national federation. Last September, 15 players protested the national team environment and the management style of head coach Jorge Vilda, and just three of those players were selected for the World Cup roster. There is “a reason players were on strike,” Stoney said of the Spanish federation.

And while she made clear that the issue of power imbalance in relationships extends beyond sports, she wants to see the issue addressed within women’s soccer.

“I’m completely against anything that puts a player in a vulnerable position. … So I think the governing bodies, FIFA, UEFA, anybody who’s involved, step in because it’s not acceptable,” Stoney said. “These women get treated like this far too often, far too many times, and something needs to change.