Spain’s women’s World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda on Saturday slammed the “inappropriate” behavior of suspended Football Federation President Luis Rubiales, whose forced kiss on player Jennifer Hermoso at last Sunday’s World Cup final sparked outrage triggered in world football.
“I am deeply sorry that the victory of Spanish women’s football has been marred by the inappropriate behavior of our previous top leader Luis Rubiales, and that he himself recognized,” Vilda said on Saturday in a statement shared by many Spanish media.
A week ago, the incident watched by millions of viewers around the world happened when Hermoso accepted her medal after winning the Women’s World Cup.
Rubiales’ subsequent refusal to resign – despite heavy criticism – has sparked a crisis in Spanish football. World football’s governing body FIFA has suspended him for 90 days and all the players and coaches of the Spanish women’s team, with the exception of head coach Vilda, have resigned en masse.
Rubiales says the kiss was consensual and the association has released two statements in his defense, one of which has since been deleted, in which he threatened legal action against Hermoso and accused her of spreading “lies”.
Hermoso said the kiss was unwanted and that she and the entire World Cup team refused to play for the national team while Rubiale remained president.
“I didn’t like this incident,” she wrote in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I felt vulnerable and the victim of an impulsive, sexist misconduct without my consent.”
As the dispute dragged on into the weekend, several football teams, both men’s and women’s, showed their support for Hermoso at their matches – some holding shirts, some wearing armbands, some unfurling banners.
AC Milan and Atletico Madrid players paid tribute to Hermoso at the pre-season Women’s Cup final in Madrid. They stood together with a banner that read ‘With you, Jennifer Hermoso’ while the Spanish star watched the game from the stands.
In the US, during their National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) game, the Houston Dash displayed a banner that read “Contigo Jenni,” which translates to “With You, Jenni,” and wore white armbands with the same message on them.
KS Current, Orlando Pride and San Diego Wave players – including Alex Morgan – wore similar bracelets.
It was a visual representation of the global solidarity that shaped women’s football this week.
With the exception of Vilda, all members of Spain’s women’s coaching team resigned on Saturday, releasing a joint statement saying that Rubiales’ statement “in no way reflects the feelings of Jenni Hermoso, who has specifically said that she feels she was the “”victim of aggression.”
The coaches also said they were ordered to attend the gathering where Rubiales announced his intention to remain at his post and that “various female members of the coaching staff were required to sit in the front row” to give the impression stirring up that they would do so supported the embattled president.
Their collective retirement was preceded by the retirement of 23 members of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad, including Hermoso, and nearly 50 other professional soccer players. They declared they would no longer play for the national team until Rubiales was removed from his post. La Roja’s next game is less than a month away on September 22nd.
This solidarity also extended to men’s football: Cádiz and Sevilla showed their support for Hermoso at their respective games on Saturday, while Spanish football icon Xavi condemned Rubiales’ behaviour.
Cadiz placed a banner on the pitch that read “Todos Somos Jenni (We Are All Jenni)”. A photo of it was later reposted by the incumbent second deputy prime minister of Spain, Yolanda Díaz.
Meanwhile, Sevilla’s players wore T-shirts with the hashtag ‘SeAcabó’, meaning ‘It’s over’, a nod to Rubiales’ tenure at the federation.
According to Reuters, Barcelona coach Xavi said on Saturday that he “condemns” Rubiales’ behavior and offered Jennifer Hermoso and the players “unconditional support”.
“I regret that the historic achievement of winning the World Cup is not being discussed,” he added.