Luis Rubiales’ gross behavior at Spain’s Women’s World Cup finale keeps getting worse

Luis Rubiales’ gross behavior at Spain’s Women’s World Cup finale keeps getting worse

On Sunday, Spain won the Women’s World Cup. However, the days since their triumph have not focused on their excellence on the pitch, but rather on disgusting behavior off it. Things reached a boiling point on Friday when Luis Rubiales, the embattled President of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), stepped to a microphone at an RFEF assembly where it was expected that a string of horrific and grotesque actions would lead to him announcing his resignation.

Instead, in a scene ripped from The Wolf of Wall Street, Rubiales declared that he was not going anywhere.

Let’s take a step back and walk through everything.

The behavior in question began in the minutes after Spain clinched their first-ever Women’s World Cup. Rubiales’ behavior — and his ham-fisted attempts to clean up after his mess — led to the speculation about his impending resignation.

It began moments after the final whistle when Rubiales was seen celebrating in the stands by grabbing his crotch:

This was done with 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofía and Queen Letizia of Spain standing nearby.

Then Rubiales came down on the field to celebrate with the players, but in those moments he forced a kiss on the lips of Spanish player Jenni Hermoso:

The unsolicited kiss of Hermoso has drawn the most attention, but Rubiales was also spotted “hugging other Spain players and kissing them on the cheek,” according to this report from ESPN.

The backlash to his behavior was swift, and while Rubiales tried to brush off the criticism as coming from “idiots,” outrage grew. Spain’s Equalities Minister Irene Montero posted a thread on social media ending with the blunt point: “Only yes is yes.”

Rubiales then issued what one could describe as an apology on video, where he seems to apologize to those who “felt hurt by this:”

“There’s also an event which I have to regret … What happened happened, I think in a very spontaneous way. I repeat: with no bad faith from either of the two parties,” he said as quoted in The Athletic. “Of course, if there are people who felt hurt by this, I need to apologize — there’s no alternative.”

The criticism only grew, reaching the highest levels of the Spanish government. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called the apology “insufficient and inadequate.” The acting second deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz, called for Rubiales to “resign” from his post after his actions.

Montero again took to social media regarding the apology, and described it as a “form of sexual violence.”

Just when you thought it could not get worse for Rubiales, it did. Recent reporting indicated that Rubiales — and team coach Jorge Vilda — attempted to get Hermoso to appear in the video with him, a request that the player and her family declined.

Instead, the RFEF released a statement where Hermoso appeared to downplay the incident and stated that she and Rubiales had an “excellent relationship.” However, it has since come to light that Hermoso never provided such a statement. In a release from FUTPRO, her union, Hermoso declared simply that “[m]y FUTPRO union, in coordination with my TMJ agency, are taking charge of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter.”

The statement further indicated that FUTPRO expresses their “ … firm and resounding condemnation of behaviors that violate the dignity of women.”

In addition to the politicians calling for Rubiales’ ouster, some clubs in Spanish soccer followed suit. The most notable? Atlético de Madrid, who became the fourth club to call for his dismissal:

It seemed that Rubiales’ position was untenable, and speculation grew that he would announce his resignation at the RFEF assembly on Friday. Instead, Rubiales was defiant, declaring that the incident with Hermoso was “consensual,” and that he would not resign over a “peck:”

Regarding the point that it was consensual, it is important to point out that in the locker room following the Women’s World Cup Final, Hermoso was on camera addressing the incident with Rubiales, and stated she “didn’t like it,” before asking someone off camera what she could do about it.

Returning to Friday, Rubiales also attacked what he termed “false feminism:”

Watching, and applauding, were the managers of both the women’s and the men’s teams:

In the hours leading to Rubiales’ remarks, it was expected that Vilda would be following him out the door. Instead, Rubiales vowed that he would be retaining Vilda as the manager of the women’s team, with a rather hefty raise:

It is certainly worth mentioning that things were rocky for the RFEF heading into the Women’s World Cup. In September of last year multiple members of the team complained about a lack of professionalism from the RFEF, with criticism levied at Vilda. Even when the team was announced ahead of the Women’s World Cup, roughly half of the members stood silent when Vilda was introduced as the manager, refusing to applaud.

It was thought that the situation had improved, and RFEF was amenable to improving things for the women’s team. That, coupled with their run to a title, seemed to indicate that better things were on the horizon.

That view was shattered within minutes, and the days since have been spent discussing Rubiales, and not the team’s achievements.

So, what happens now?

FIFA’s disciplinary committee informed Rubiales on Thursday that his actions may have violated the organization’s code of conduct, and that they were initiating disciplinary proceedings.

On a governmental level Montero took to social media to ask that Spain’s public prosecutor, along with the nation’s Sports Council, take steps to intervene. According to at least one report, the prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into Rubiales for sexual assault.

Around Spanish soccer, players have also made calls for Rubiales to step aside.

Borja Iglesias, who plays for Real Betis, indicated that he would not play for the national team unless something was done. His teammate at Real Betis, Hector Bellerin, blasted Rubiales on social media, calling him a “narcissist,” and calling the entire incident “shameful.” Alexia Putellas, Hermoso’s teammate on the women’s team, called Rubiales’ behavior “unacceptable” and declared “it’s over.”

Even players from other nations have spoken out. Caroline Hansen, who plays club soccer for FC Barcelona but is a member of the Norwegian national team, took to social media to support Hermoso:

On the club level, it is unclear if other teams will join the four Spanish clubs who have already called for Rubiales’ ouster.

However, for at least the moment, Rubiales remains in charge.

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