Spanish football is going through more than just a crisis of confidence with the kiss affair surrounding its association president Luis Rubiales, who has since been suspended by Fifa. The earthquake also reaches Germany.
By Frank Hellman
Alexandra Popp doesn’t want to look further away either. At the weekend, the top scorer wrote a statement on the kissing affair about the Spanish association president Luis Rubiales for the “team council of the German women’s national football team” after the 46-year-old took a power policy that was freed from any sense of honor, shame and responsibility to the extreme driven and caused a huge heap of shards among the world champions. “Such behavior is unacceptable and it is even more intolerable to downplay it and put pressure on the player. Nobody, absolutely nobody should dismiss this as a trifle,” said the open letter that the 32-year-old said on her Instagram account. It wasn’t just the forced kiss to Jenni Hermoso, “but also touching the abdomen or wearing Athenea del Castillo. Should an official and representative do something like that? NO!”
The limited talented ex-professional – even trained by the German Bernd Schuster at Deportivo Xerez and UD Levante – has long since become the ugly face of a male-dominated official who has not heard much about equality and respect. While the DFB captain shows a clear edge, President Bernd Neuendorf (“I imagined you would be in a similar situation: I don’t think I would have acted like that”) left it with a gentle downward movement to this type of macho culture .
The DFB had only sent a statement of solidarity (“Team Germany is with you”) for the affected world champion in the Instagram story of its women. Popp’s side swipe (“It’s sad, even if not everyone in the German football world seems to be enlightened enough to be able to assess that”) could not only apply to the former Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who initiated the Rubiales campaign “With all due respect – absolutely okay”. The SC Freiburg fans had absolutely no understanding for this, and expressed their rejection on a banner during the Bundesliga game against Werder Bremen: “Fist instead of kiss for Rubiales and Rummenigge.”
FIFA has temporarily suspended Luis Rubiales
The public reactions, even from the Spanish government, reveal that nothing is right. The Spanish sports authority CSD applied to the national sports court Tad for the suspension of Rubiales, who even announced a lawsuit against Hermoso with his association. The RFEF justified this by saying “to defend the honor of the President, who explained clearly and simply how the events came about, which are the cause of the conflict and the ridicule of broad sections of society against the President.” The association thus destroyed its last credibility.
Even the world association Fifa acted quickly and swiftly this time. On Saturday, the Disciplinary Committee chaired by Jorge Ivan Palacio (Colombia) imposed a temporary ban on all football-related activities at national and international level against Rubiales, who produced what is probably the biggest own goal in Spanish football with his forced kiss and the behavior that followed.
At the same time, the world association issued instructions that Rubiales may not contact the player Hermoso or her immediate surroundings, either personally or through a third person. Irrespective of this, disciplinary proceedings are underway against the bald man for violating Article 13 of his own regulations. The passage deals with “Offensive Conduct and Violations of the Principles of Fair Play”.
German international Laura Freigang sharply criticizes Rubiales
With the investigations of Fifa, Laura Freigang, one of the most opinionated national players, had already positioned herself three days ago. Rubiales’ action is scandalous on a completely different level. “If there is one issue that shapes women’s football off the field, it is the ongoing scandals surrounding sexism in sport,” wrote the Eintracht Frankfurt leader in one, referring to the revelations of sexual abuse in the National Women’s Soccer League the USA or by Zambia’s national coach Bruce Mwape.
“For me, Rubiales’ behavior shows one thing above all: how little sensitivity and self-reflection he has towards issues such as sexualization, sexism and power relations in sport,” wrote the 25-year-old. “Power also means responsibility, and if you are not aware of this, there should be consequences. If nothing happens here again, it shows once again what fundamental problems we have at many levels of power.” The fact that the world champion Hermoso was kissed against her will in front of an audience of millions by the head of the association clasping her head with his hands is now actually out of the question.
“I want to clarify that, as you can see from the pictures, I never consented to the kiss that he[Rubiales; ed. ed.]gave me and of course I never tried to kiss myself to approach the president,” said the 33-year-old about the players’ union Futpro. “I felt vulnerable and a victim of aggression, impulsive behavior, macho, out of place and without my consent.”
Shortly after the World Cup triumph, the dangerous midfielder said that she “didn’t like the action”, then it was suddenly said that the ominous kiss had taken place by mutual consent. Alleged statements that the RFEF passed on to Spanish media, but which were fictitious. Appropriate for an affair-tossed official who makes the (soccer) world as he likes it. Since 2018, Rubiales has been running his institution in the manner of a squire. If the Spanish government and sports minister Miquel Iceta have their way, the man should vacate his post as soon as possible.
Apparently, Rubiales and his followers still don’t realize what they’re doing. After the revolt of 15 internationals last year, there is now a final break with 81 current and former players who will no longer wear the jersey for “La Furia Roja” as long as Rubiales remains in charge. Among them are the most prominent names, from world footballer Alexia Putellas to former Bundesliga player Vero Boquete.
Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin has been silent so far
In addition, the entire coaching team of the world champions have declared their resignation out of solidarity with Hermoso, Spanish media reported. Even national coach Jorge Vilda, who has long been close to his association boss through the connection of his father Angel Vilda, who works in the association, now stated in a statement: “This is undoubtedly unacceptable and in no way corresponds to the principles and values that I have in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular.” Men’s national coach Luis de la Fuente also distanced himself from his superior, whom he applauded at the general assembly on Friday when Rubiales verbosely ruled out his resignation.
Women’s national coach Vilda could try to save his own job with his change of direction. Because the 42-year-old feels that under these circumstances it is impossible to set up a national team in the Nations League games on September 22nd with the new Fifa world number one Sweden and then on September 26th against Switzerland when it comes to the Olympic qualification goes. The quake reaches to the base: coaches for the junior national teams are also said to have resigned from their jobs. And new allegations promptly surfaced: female officials in particular were forced to sit in the front row at the general assembly in order to feign female solidarity.
It is interesting that Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin has not yet commented on the cause: the Slovenian had already made the Spanish head of the association one of his vice presidents in 2019 after DFB boss Reinhard Grindel stumbled over his watch affair. The relationship between Ceferin and Rubiales is described as trusting. In Nyon, it is difficult to make statements. So far, Nadine Kessler, who works at Uefa as head of the women’s soccer department and is said to be the future managing director of the DFB, does not want to say anything either. The 35-year-old had declined all interview requests at the Fifa Congress in Sydney one day before the World Cup final between Spain and England (1-0), which was understandable given the interest of the DFB that had become public at the time. This case, however, requires a clear stance quickly.
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.