The embattled Spanish FA (RFEF) has threatened legal action after brazenly accusing Jenni Hermoso of ‘lies’ following her insistence that she did not consent to being kissed by president Luis Rubiales.
In an extraordinary statement late on Friday night, the crisis-ridden organisation continued their staunch backing of Rubiales after he kissed Hermoso on the mouth following Spain’s World Cup final victory over England on Sunday.
It came as Matildas stars Sam Kerr vice captain Steph Catley and defender Alanna Kennedy posted or reshared messages of support for Hermoso online. They were joined by England’s Lionesses, who issued a statement of solidarity late on Friday.
Hermoso, 33, said through the Spanish players’ union FUTPRO that she ‘felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part’. The statement was signed by 56 players, who have refused to play until Rubiales is sacked.
It came after Rubiales had claimed he asked permission to kiss Hermoso, who was said to have responded to say he could give her ‘a little peck’.
‘I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and of course in no case did I seek to raise the president. I do not tolerate that my word is questioned, much less that words are invented that I have not said,’ Hermoso said.
Sam Kerr shared this message of solidarity with the Spanish players, joining other Matildas stars
The Spanish FA has released an extraordinary defence of Luis Rubiales following Jenni Hermoso’s statement on Friday
Rubiales, president of the Spanish FA, kissed Hermoso on the mouth after the World Cup final
Jenni Hermoso released a lengthy statement on social media in response to the incident
In response, the RFEF claimed Rubiales – who dramatically refused to resign from his position on Friday – acted with ‘utmost respect’ and says that ‘lies have been spread about him’ from Hermoso’s camp.
The Spanish FA said the organisation and Rubiales ‘will demonstrate each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself’.
‘The RFEF and the President, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the Futpro union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions,’ they added.
The RFEF claims the ‘evidence’ was ‘conclusive’ that Rubiales, 46, had ‘not lied’. In the statement, they included a photo-by-photo rundown of the kiss incident in a desperate attempt to back up Rubiales’ claims.
In a statement on Friday, Hermoso said: ‘I feel obliged to report that Mr Luis Rubiales’ words explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated.
‘I want to make it clear that at no time did the conversation wo which Mr Luis Rubiales refers to in his address take place, and, above all, was his kiss ever consensual.
‘I want to reiterate as I did before that I did not like this incident.
‘The situation shocked me given the celebrations that were taking place at the moment, and with the passage of time and after delving a little deeper into those initial feelings, I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours.
‘I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.
‘Simply put, I was not respected.’
She went on to accuse the Spanish FA of putting her under ‘continuous pressure’ to ‘make a joint statement to alleviate the pressure on the president’ as outrage about the kiss grew.
Rubiales blew kisses to the audience after insisting he would not step down from his position
England’s Lionesses condemned the ‘unacceptable actions’ of Rubiales and called the Spanish FA ‘sexist and patriarchal’
Jenni Hermoso’s emotional statement in full
‘After achieving one of the most important objectives of my sports career and after a few days of reflection, I want to sincerely thank my teammates, fans, followers, media and everyone who has made this dream come true; your work and unconditional support were a fundamental part of winning the World Cup.
‘Sadly, the ability to celebrate that has been cut short. While it is true that I do not want to interfere with the multiple ongoing legal processes, I feel obliged to report that Mr Luis Rubiales’ words explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated.
‘I want to make it clear that at no time did the conversation wo which Mr Luis Rubiales refers to in his address take place, and, above all, was his kiss ever consensual. I want to reiterate as I did before that I did not like this incident.
‘The situation shocked me given the celebrations that were taking place at the moment, and with the passage of time and after delving a little deeper into those initial feelings, I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours. I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.
‘Simply put, I was not respected.
‘I was asked to make a joint statement to alleviate the pressure on the president, but at that moment all I had in mind was to enjoy the historic milestone achieved with my teammates. For this reason, I always conveyed to the RFEF and its various interlocutors, as well as to media and people I trust, that I would not make any individual or joint statements on this matter, as I understood that doing so would take even more prominence away from such a special moment for my teammates and me.
‘Despite my decision, I must state that I have been under continuous pressure to make a statement that could justify Mr Luis Rubiales’ actions. Not only that, but in different ways and through different people, the RFEF has pressured my surroundings (family, friends, teammates, etc) to give a testimony that had little or nothing to do with my feelings.
‘It is not up to me to evaluate communication and integrity practices, but I am sure that as the World Champions, we as a team do not deserve such a manipulative, hostile, and controlling culture. These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing in recent years. This incident, one in which I have been involved, is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television during the celebration also comes with attitudes like the one we saw the morning and have been part of our team’s daily life for years.
‘For all these reasons, I want to reinforce the position I took from the beginning, considering that I do not have to support the person who has committed this actionn against my will, without respecting me, at a historic moment for me and for women’s sports in this country. Under no circumstances can it be my responsibility to bear the consequences of conveying something I do not believe in, which is why I have refused the pressures received.
‘I have ZERO TOLERANCE for these behaviours.
‘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 recognise one’s 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.
‘Thank you all for the messages of support and encouraging words received. I know I am not alone, and thanks to all of you, we will push forward more united than ever. I leave this matter in the hands of TMJ and FUTPRO, and the people I trust. They will continued working on the next necessary steps.
Hermoso also claimed her friends, family and team-mates have also been pressured, with team-mates also asked by the RFEF to make statements about the incident.
Rubiales claimed the kiss was ‘consensual’ in a speech on Friday. He said: ‘It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key. A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here?
‘Jenni was the one who lifted me up. I told her to ‘forget about the penalty [that Mary Earps saved]’ and I said to her ‘a little peck?’ and she said ‘OK’.’
Hermoso said this claim was ‘categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he has generated.’
She continued: ‘I am sure that as the World Champions, we as a team do not deserve such a manipulative, hostile, and controlling culture.
‘These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing in recent years.
‘This incident, one in which I have been involved, is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television during the celebration also comes with attitudes like the one we saw the morning and have been part of our team’s daily life for years.’
On Friday, Rubiales launched a stunning tirade as he blamed ‘false feminism’ for a ‘social murder’ against him in a speech at a meeting where he was expected to step down.
Rubiales refused to quit as president during the Spanish FA’s extraordinary meeting, despite the global backlash at his actions in the immediate aftermath of Spain’s 1-0 triumph over England.
His defiance sparked a furious response from members of the Spanish women’s team, as well as current and former players on the men’s national side.
England’s Lionesses also released a statement condemning Rubiales, saying: ‘Unacceptable actions allowed to happen by a sexist and patriarchal organisation.
‘Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth. The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people shouldn’t take any convincing to take action against any form of harassment.
‘We stand with you, Jenni Hermoso.’
Australia’s captain Kerr shared a post by Spain star Mapi León who described the incident as unacceptable.
Alexis Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner, and World Cup-winning team-mates Cata Coll, Aitana Bonmati and Irene Paredes have all spoken out publicly in defence of Hermoso.
Cata Coll, Spain’s goalkeeper in the final, wrote: ‘What a pity it gives me that 23 soccer players are not the protagonists… it’s over! With you to death Jenni Hermoso’.
Their fellow Spanish player, Patricia Guijarro, who was one of 15 players to voice opposition to head coach Jorge Vilda last year and was not picked for the World Cup, tweeted: ‘It’s over. With you @jennihermoso. Unfortunate to reach this point to believe that the complaints from months ago were real.’
Barcelona and Norway player Caroline Hansen said: ‘@jennihermoso with you! This is all lies. We all see what really happened’.
Swiss star and Barcelona player Ana-Maria Crnogorčević took a more vehement approach: ‘I’m freaking out.. it’s over. F*** this bulls**t, f**k all this f**king lies. This is insane… With you Jenni always.’
Rubiales sparked more outrage after footage emerged of him grabbing his crotch while celebrating Spain’s win in the vicinity of Spanish Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter
Rubiales also carried Spanish player Athenea del Castillo Beivide during the celebrations
Rubiales (right) pictured with Spain’s Queen Letizia and FIFA president Gianni Infantino after their 1-0 win over England in last Sunday’s final
Men’s national team striker Borja Iglesias has also quit playing for his country in protest while Rubiales remains in post.
The 30-year-old Real Betis full-back, who has been capped twice by Spain, said: ‘Wearing the Spanish National Team shirt is one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my career.
‘I don’t know if at some point I will be an option again, but I have made the decision not to return to the National Team until things change and this type of act does not go unpunished.’
FIFA have opened an investigation into Rubiales’ conduct. As well as the kiss, the Spanish FA chief appeared to grab his crotch while near to the Queen of Spain and her under-age daughter.
Rubiales is a vice-president of UEFA, a position that commands a £214,000-per-year salary. He remains in the role and could keep it even if he is forced out as head of the Spanish FA.
UEFA have so far refused to comment on the actions of Rubiales.
THE SPANISH FA’S ATTEMPT TO BLAME HERMOSO FOR ‘KISS-GATE’
The RFEF argue that Rubiales’ arms are only loosely on Hermoso’s back in this photo, meaning he could ‘exert no force’, and that his heels are raised
The above image shows Rubiales smiling as he embraces Hermoso, with one hand on top of her head and the other on her back.
In explanation, the RFEF states: ‘Ms. Jennifer Hermoso, with her arms, grabs the RFEF President from behind, while Mr. President has his arms loose on the upper part of the player’s back. Therefore, no force could exert.
‘You can see how Mr. President has the heels of his feet raised slightly.’
Here, the RFEF maintains that Hermoso keeps her arms around the president and that his heels are raised. Only one of Hermoso’s arms and one of Rubiales’ feet are visible
In the second image, Rubiales’ upper arm has moved lower down Hermoso’s head.
The RFEF explains: ‘Ms. Jennifer Hermoso keeps her arms around Mr. President’s back. Mr. President keeps his arms on top of the player’s body.
‘It is verified how Mr. President already has much higher heels.’
Only one of Rubiales’ feet is visible in the photo.
The RFEF writes that ‘Mr. President’s feet are clearly and manifestly lifted off the ground as a result of the action of force carried out by the player’
This third image, with Rubiales lifted off the ground, is where the RFEF’s statement ramps up in vehemence and attributes responsibility to Hermoso.
The RFEF states: ‘Mrs. Jennifer Hermoso continues to keep her arms in the same position as the president’s body while the president must bring his arms closer to the player’s back as a result of having lifted him off the ground and to maintain balance.
‘The inclination of the back of Mrs. Jennifer Hermoso that occurs when she is performing an action of force is indisputable.
‘Mr. President’s feet are clearly and manifestly lifted off the ground as a result of the action of force carried out by the player.’
The RFEF maintains its stance in the final photo, where Rubiales is still lifted off the ground
For this final photo provided, the RFEF explains: ‘Mrs. Jennifer Hermoso continues to keep her arms in the same position as the president’s body while the president must continue to hold on to the players so as not to fall and it is evident that the arching of the player’s body corresponds to the lifting force of Mr. President you are performing.
‘The feet of Mr. President are ostensibly raised off the ground as a result of the player’s action.