U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe is applauding the international censuring of Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales over his nonconsensual kiss of Jenni Hermoso and his subsequent refusal to resign.
Rubiales, who claims the kiss was consensual, has said he will not stepped down from his post. But FIFA has suspended him for 90 days pending its investigation into his actions, and Rubiales’ posturing has been met with contempt from the global soccer community.
The players of the World Cup-winning Spain women’s national team have refused to return while Rubiales is still in place, while 11 members of the coaching staff have resigned from their posts. After the resignation of his staff, head coach Jorge Vilda condemned Rubiales’ actions, though Vilda has not resigned.
On Sunday, Rapinoe applauded the “global backlash” against Rubiales, she told reporters after OL Reign’s match.
“He’s trying to fight back and everyone’s like, absolutely f—ing not. … So I think that speaks a lot to the progress we have made,” she said. “I think it’s almost so absurd that he’s continuing down this track. Having men’s players speak out about [it], obviously Xavi, the Barcelona head coach spoke about it. To have figures like that, I think just shows how backward his response was. … Hopefully it’ll be dealt with quickly so they can get back to celebrating their World Cup.”
Other NWSL players also felt encouraged by the support for Hermoso, including Angel City FC and New Zealand captain Ali Riley.
“What gives me hope is to see most of the world coming together and I still think that as a collective voice as women with our male allies now who are coming forward, we can’t be ignored,” she said, adding that she hopes Hermoso “feels the support.”
Portland Thorns midfielder Sam Coffey also reiterated the importance of standing behind Hermoso. NWSL players wore wristbands emblazoned with “Contigo Jenni” during the weekend’s matches, and other clubs worldwide also expressed their support.
“I don’t think I can put into words how important it is,” Coffey said. “I’m just in awe of the women in this league and the way that we’ve come together to just rally behind her.”
Every day it seems like something “more repulsive” is revealed about the RFEF and “the hell” that Hermoso and Spanish women’s players have had to go through, Coffey said. She also called out the tragedy of Spain’s World Cup win being overshadowed “by the failings of the men of their federation.”
“It’s a tale as old as time,” she said. “Ultimately, though, I do feel hope regarding the situation and that action is going to be taken. … I think it’s the support of the women around you that gets you through something like this. I’m just so glad we can rally around her and ultimately bring more of a voice and more of a light to the situation because it has no place here.”