Spanish players came out in force in support of teammate Jenni Hermoso after national federation president Luis Rubiales refused to resign Friday in a defiant speech.
Rubiales has come under fire for his unsolicited kiss of Hermoso during Spain’s World Cup celebration on Aug. 20. While reports indicated he would resign, instead he doubled down, saying he would “fight to the end.” The Spanish government later started the legal proceedings necessary to suspend Rubiales.
After the speech, Hermoso’s World Cup teammates spoke out in condemnation of Rubiales and in solidarity with Hermoso. So did prominent members of “Las 15,” the group of Spanish players who protested against the national team environment ahead of the tournament.
Two-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas called Rubiales’ refusal to step down from his post “unacceptable.”
“This is unacceptable. It’s over,” Alexia Putellas wrote in Spanish. “With you partner @Jennihermoso.”
Esto es inaceptable. Se acabó. Contigo compañera @Jennihermoso— Alexia Putellas (@alexiaputellas) August 25, 2023
Esto es inaceptable. Se acabó. Contigo compañera @Jennihermoso
Spain’s Irene Paredes also expressed her support for Hermoso, writing in Spanish: “Everyone saw what happened. The victim is you. I’m with you friend.”
Todo el mundo vio lo que pasó. La víctima eres tú. Estoy contigo amiga @Jennihermoso— Irene Paredes (@Irene_Paredes4) August 25, 2023
Todo el mundo vio lo que pasó. La víctima eres tú. Estoy contigo amiga @Jennihermoso
Aitana Bonmatí, who won the tournament’s Golden Ball, wrote in Spanish: “There are limits that cannot be crossed and we cannot tolerate this. We are with you mate.”
Olga Carmona, who scored the game-winning goal, chimed in as well, posting a photo of herself and Hermoso embracing each other after the World Cup win.
Hay límites que no se pueden cruzar y esto no lo podemos tolerar. Estamos contigo compañera.— Aitana Bonmatí Conca (@AitanaBonmati) August 25, 2023
Hay límites que no se pueden cruzar y esto no lo podemos tolerar. Estamos contigo compañera.
Patri Guijarro, Mapi León and Clàudia Pina, all of whom were among “Las 15” and made themselves unavailable for World Cup selection, referenced the longstanding dispute between the players and the national federation.
“It’s over. With you @Jennihermoso,” Guijarro wrote in Spanish. “Unfortunate to reach this point to believe that the complaints from months ago were real.”
León shared similar sentiments, writing in Spanish: “It has not been necessary to spend a lot of time to see that what was demanded a few months ago was not a simple tantrum. The images speak for themselves, and I don’t think there is much more to add. It is unacceptable. For all the women, with you @Jennihermoso.”
So did Pina, who wrote in Spanish: “It is unfortunate that this situation had to come to pass and that many of us have had to give up our dreams to be heard.”
In Rubiales’ speech Friday, he reiterated that his kiss of Hermoso was “consensual,” but the 33-year-old midfielder has refuted that point. She issued a statement Wednesday in conjunction with the Spanish players’ union that said such actions “should never go unpunished.”
On the men’s side, several former Spain internationals criticized Rubiales as well. David de Gea noted that his “ears are bleeding,” while Iker Casillas called the speech a “total embarrassment.”
Real Betis player Borja Iglesias said that while wearing the Spanish national team jersey is “one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my career,” he would not wear it again until “things change and this type of act does not go unpunished.”
FIFPRO, the international players’ union, also issued a statement calling for “immediate disciplinary action” against Rubiales. FIFA opened an investigation against Rubiales on Thursday, and FIFPRO said it also has appealed to UEFA to request 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,” the statement read.