Luis Rubiales continues to dig in his heels, refusing to resign as president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) despite mounting backlash over his unsolicited kiss of star midfielder Jenni Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final.

On Friday, Spain’s sports court deemed Rubiales’ kiss of Hermoso was “serious” but not “very serious,” which means Rubiales cannot be suspended by the Spanish government. While an investigation by Spanish prosecutors could still lead the president to be suspended for a maximum of two years, Rubiales will continue to defend himself “to prove the truth,” he said.

He also criticized those in the media and politics for “unprecedented” treatment.

“He just continues to dig that hole. I don’t understand the point of all of this,” U.S. women’s national team legend Julie Foudy told CNN on Friday. “What we’ve seen is you have, for the first time ever, a women’s team in Spain win that World Cup. And that has never happened in that country.

“And so in this moment of joy and glee for these women, all of a sudden all of that is taken away by Rubiales’ refusal to even apologize at first.”

Rubiales has faced heavy criticism, including from leaders of the Spanish government and regional presidents of the Spanish football federation. Even still, he has held his ground, but Foudy doesn’t think will end well for Rubiales.

“I think the difference this time around … is that you have this movement culturally and in society where you’re seeing a global reaction to this,” she said. “Not just soccer players defending her, not just women. … there has been a global reaction to that. And the government has responded to it. I think this will not end well for him.”

Despite the seemingly unending controversy, Foudy still thinks some good will come from it.

“If you can find a silver lining in it … it will be this transformative moment,” she said, highlighting the issues Spain has faced with “Las 15.” “This is not just about a kiss, this is about a larger systemic issue. And finally you’re getting a cultural reaction, not just in Spain but globally.”

Tennis star Ons Jabeur is joining the North Carolina Courage as a minority owner, the club announced Friday.

In doing so, Jabeur joins a long list of athletes who have invested in NWSL clubs, including Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Serena Williams and Sue Bird.

These stars are putting their money into a booming league. The 2022 NWSL final drew 915,000 viewers, a 71% increase from the 2021 final. And franchise valuations have skyrocketed: The Washington Spirit sold for $35 million in February; Gotham FC were valued at $40 million in August; and the Portland Thorns were valued at $60 million ahead of their upcoming sale.

Just Women’s Sports highlights some of the NWSL’s top athlete investors during the 2023 season.

Angel City FC

The Los Angeles-based club features a long roster of investors, including NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford, his wife Kelly and their daughters.

“We fell in love with attending an Angel City game last season and wanted our daughters to experience something so important and powerful first-hand,” Matthew and Kelly Stafford said in a news release.

The list of investors includes many former U.S. women’s national team players, including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Rachel Buehler, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Shannon MacMillan, Angela Hucles Mangano and Saskia Webber.

Retired tennis players Serena Williams, Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker, former USMNT player Cobi Jones, former NHL defender P.K. Subban, U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson East and former NFL long snapper Andrew East also are investors.

Chicago Red Stars

Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and her investor group have reached an agreement to buy the Red Stars.

The group includes Angela Barnes, chief legal officer of IDEO; Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas and a partner in the Pittsburgh Penguins ownership group; Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO of Impact Engine; Jennifer Pritzker, president and CEO of TAWANI Enterprises; and Sidney Dillard, a partner at Chicago’s Loop Capital.

Houston Dash

NBA star James Harden joined the ownership group for the Dash and their MLS counterpart, the Houston Dynamo, in July 2019. While the 2018 NBA MVP and 10-time All-Star plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2022-23 season, he played for the Houston Rockets from 2012-21.

Gotham FC

The New York City-area team pulled in several big-name investors in 2022, among them former USWNT and Gotham forward Carli Lloyd, four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning.

Kansas City Current

Patrick Mahomes will join his wife Brittany and Current co-owners Angie and Chris Long as an investor in the club, which enters 2023 looking to build on its 2022 NWSL championship appearance.

“I am excited to join another championship-caliber club as it continues to make history,” the 2018 NFL MVP and 2020 Super Bowl MVP said in a statement.

North Carolina Courage

Naomi Osaka invested in the Courage in 2021. The 25-year-old tennis star is a four-time major singles champion and topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid female athletes in the world with $51.1 million in earnings in 2022. Fellow tennis star Ons Jabeur joined Osaka as an investor in the Courage in August 2023.

“Soccer and female empowerment are my main passions outside of tennis,” Jabeur said. “When Naomi took an equity stake in the Courage, I asked her if she would give me a starting position as a striker, but she said no… so I did the next best thing and become an owner. The Courage are the perfect club for me in terms of shared values and ambitions, both on and off the field.”

OL Reign

Former NBA point guard Tony Parker, who played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2001-18 and for the Charlotte Hornets from 2018-19, holds a minority stake in the Seattle-based club.

Washington Spirit

Former USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry and U.S. Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes joined the Spirit as minority investors in 2021.

Spain’s ball movement during its World Cup title win caught the eye of U.S. women’s national team great Julie Foudy.

One user on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, lamented during the match that the U.S. used to move the ball like Spain. Foudy responded, saying the comment was “very kind” but incorrect.

“We have never moved the ball like Spain does,” she wrote. “Their grace on the ball is gorgeous to watch.”

Spain won the World Cup final, 1-0, over England on Aug. 20, thanks to a first-half goal from Olga Carmona. La Roja spent much of the rest of the match knocking on the door of another goal, with 57% possession and 81% passing accuracy on 486 total passes.

And when the Lionesses came knocking, Spain shut them down to hold on for the win.

With the victory, Spain claimed its first senior World Cup win, after having won the most recent Under-20 World Cup title and the two most recent Under-17 World Cup titles. Emerging Spanish talent Salma Paralluelo played a role in both the 2022 U-20 and the 2018 U-17 titles, as well as the 2023 senior title.

“Congrats to Spain, getting that FIRST WORLD CUP win at senior level,” Foudy said in a later post. “They’ve completely dominated the youth level for (the) last five years. So much success at U-17 and U-20 level. And then, to do it without all of their top players here. Their domination is just getting started. So impressive.”

The men’s World Cup in Qatar brought attention to the progress the U.S. women’s national team has made off the pitch in the form of its equal pay deal. But on the pitch, its roster is dealing with growing pains, U.S. soccer legend Julie Foudy tells Just Women’s Sports.

As the men’s national team made its World Cup run, the USWNT made headlines, as for the first time under their new CBAs, the teams are sharing their FIFA prize money equally. The USMNT advanced to the knockout round, which put both squads in line to receive $5.85 million each — but for Foudy, the change is about more than the bottom line.

“The U.S. Soccer logo and mantra has always been ‘one nation, one team,’ right? But now it really feels like that,” Foudy says. “They always did support each other, but it just feels very different now.

“It feels the way it should be, and I’m glad we finally got to that because that’s really how it should be. We should all be rowing in the same boat together.”

Yet as attention turns from the USMNT and the 2022 tournament to the USWNT and the 2023 World Cup, there has been an uptick in concern about the women’s readiness.

For the first time since 1993, the team lost three games in a row, falling to England, Spain and Germany late this year. While the U.S. managed to avoid a fourth straight loss, ending their 2022 schedule with a win over Germany, questions remain.

Foudy sees the losses as part of the process for a developing roster.

“You’re playing against three of the best teams in the world who could easily win this next World Cup. And that’s what you want to see at that level,” she said. “And they’re still so young. I mean, that’s the thing we often forget when people start to panic about what is happening with this team.

“This is a rebuild. That’s going to take some time.”

Foudy pointed to forwards Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith as bright spots for the squad.

“The power of those two young gunners is incredible to see,” she said, noting that their ability to open up space for Alex Morgan in the No. 9 spot makes it hard for teams to handle the USWNT attack.

“The challenge, of course, is that you can’t just rely on those two to be carrying the team, which is what a lot of that looked like in those four games,” she added.

Still, the USWNT great sees potential in the front five, including Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan. Catarina Macario should also make her return from an ACL tear in early 2023.

While the team has dealt with a plethora of injuries, there has been “too much discussion” about the team’s missing players from both the media and U.S. Soccer staff, Foudy said.

“Guess what? That’s part of soccer,” she said. “Yes, the U.S. has a ton of injuries right now. But that’s part of it. It’s the next person up.”

Other national teams have players missing, Foudy noted. Spain’s Alexia Putellas is sidelined with a torn ACL, while England’s Beth Mead recently tore her ACL and could miss next summer’s World Cup.

“It happens for every team, every country. It is not just with this national team,” Foudy said. “And so do they miss Macario? Yes. Do they miss maybe a [Christen] Press if she was able to go? Yes. Tobin Heath is injured. I mean, Sam Mewis? Julie Ertz?

“The reality is, they may not have them [next summer]. And so you, you just deal with the hand you’re dealt.”

The USWNT must rely on its depth as they move into 2023 and continue to prepare for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“When I hear anything coming from some of the staff at U.S. Soccer, like, enough,” Foudy said. “We know about the people who are injured. Let’s focus on what you have.”

Another World Cup discussion, though, has been fun for Foudy: The debate over whether the beautiful game should be called football or soccer.

Foudy, alongside Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm, participated in a Frito-Lay ad campaign about the debate, which gave her the chance to work with legendary director Michael Bay.

“He was amazing and, of course, hysterical,” Foudy said.

While she came in knowing the script for the commercial, she and Chastain were allowed to riff off of one another at the direction of Bay.

“That’s the beauty of Michael, too, is you can kind of pivot while he’s [directing],” she added. “He’s seen things and he’s reacting to stuff. He was great.”

The campaign was headlined by David Beckham and Peyton Manning, two of the best in their respective sports. Also joining the star-studded cast were Javier “Chicarito” Hernández and Tim Howard.

“It was just so fun to see it come together,” Foudy said. “When you’re hearing about where their shoots were, how they were doing and to watch the different iterations of it.”

Working alongside Chastain was not new to Foudy — after all, they were teammates for the entirety of their national team careers. The two-time World Cup winner admits that whenever the two hang out for long periods of time, “trouble ensues.”

“In a good way, good dribble,” she assured. “It was really fun.”

The commercial, which has run throughout the men’s World Cup, elicits “healthy debate,” which Foudy loves.

“The thing I hear from people who’ve watched it, and so many people have responded to it, is they just love it, right?” she said. “They love that it’s fun, it’s bringing people together, they’re debating it in a healthy way. The world needs a lot more healthy debate, in a way. Which is essentially what the World Cup does, which is what the commercial does.”

As the 2022 men’s World Cup continues, the tournament provides a reminder that the 2023 women’s World Cup is fast approaching.

Groups were drawn in October for next summer’s tournament, set to start on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. While the USWNT will not match up against familiar foe Sweden this time, the squad will face the 2019 runner-up in the Netherlands.

Still, former USWNT star Julie Foudy believes the group sets the USWNT up well.

Speaking recently on “The Attacking Third,” Foudy addressed the group draw as well as the team’s recent form.

“It’s a very winnable group,” Foudy said. “I think with the expanded field of 32 teams, you have a pretty clear delineation of those top two teams in the groups. I think it’s a good group. It’s a good matchup.

“And, on the other side of the bracket that you don’t have to worry about until the final, is Germany, France, Brazil. There were like, five of the top nine teams on the other side.”

Dipping into her 16 years of experience – which includes four World Cup tournaments and two World Cup titles – Foudy noted that the USWNT’s mindset has always been less about the opponents. Instead, the team focuses on the end goal of winning the tournament.

The expectation, she said, is always to be on top of the podium. The World Cup draw just signals that the tournament is happening, and soon.

“What that signals to the staff, to the coaches, to the players is, ‘We’ve got to pay attention to the little things now,’” she said. “Everyone’s doing the big things. Now it’s about the details and getting that cohesion, getting that chemistry, getting that confidence.”

Recent games have showcased the team’s struggle to establish cohesion. For the first time since 1993, the team lost three games in a row. While the USWNT avoided a fourth loss, it didn’t stop the ringing of the alarm bells.

Foudy, who has become a broadcaster in her retirement, said that in speaking with head coach Vlatko Andonovski before the team’s second game against Germany she could “sense there was some stress within the group.”

“Obviously no one wanted to be that team,” she said.

But Foudy isn’t as panicked about the losses. Instead, she said, the style of play is more concerning.

“I was in less of a panic mode than most of the U.S. fans,” she said. “The thing that’s more concerning to me is, we’re not holding the ball. We’re not playing with the swagger I think we can with as many creative players as we have. We’re not dictating the pace of the game. We’re not pressing as much as we should.”

The team’s run of play hasn’t been fluid, she said. Instead, goals have been coming off mistakes or from quick-footed players, such as Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith, outrunning competitors.

“There’s no run-of-play, fluid, gorgeous goals like that. And I think that’s the most concerning thing,” she said. “This team is creative, as we know. And you have a ton of good players. Why even against top 10 teams are we not holding the ball more?”