Megan Rapinoe wades into the Spain FA president controversy, calling his unwanted kiss ‘physical assault’ and slamming his crotch-grabbing gesture as a ‘signal of a deep level of misogyny and sexism’
- The 38-year-old questioned all that Spain ‘had to endure’ from their federation
- Rubiales cuts a divisive figure for his staunch support for coach Jorge Vilda
- WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 2 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show
USWNT star Megan Rapinoe has called out the ‘deep level of misogyny and sexism’ following the controversial behaviour Spanish FA (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales displayed at the World Cup final on Sunday, which saw him kiss Jenni Hermoso on the mouth and appear to grab his crotch whilst celebrating Spain’s victory.
The 38-year-old travelled Down Under with her national team to defend the side’s title at this year’s tournament, but were ignominiously knocked out in the round of 16 by Sweden in the country’s lowest-ever World Cup finish.
A 0-0 draw at the end of full-time and extra-time sent the tie to penalties, and Rapinoe was one of three US players unable to find the back of goalkeeper Zecira Musovic’s goal as the Swedes pulled off the mother of all upsets.
Rapinoe later shared that she did not watch the World Cup final – which saw English hearts broken as Spain defeated the European champions 1-0 – live, watching the match later in the morning due to the US time difference.
But questioned by The Atlantic about her thoughts on Rubiales’ actions ahead of the trophy presentation, Rapinoe was unable to hold back her disapproval, calling the kiss ‘physical assault’.
Megan Rapinoe has called out the ‘deep level of misogyny and sexism’ in the Spanish FA after president Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso and grabbed his crotch in celebration at the World Cup final
The USWNT star claimed the federation head’s behaviour amounted to ‘physical assault’
Hermoso (centre) said she ‘didn’t like it’ and refused to be in an apology video with Rubiales
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‘It made me think about how much we are required to endure,’ Rapinoe said of the incident. Think how much that Spanish team had to shoulder: Some of the players who stood up way back last year (in protest against the ongoing involvement of head coach Jorge Vilda) still aren’t on the team.
‘Maybe that was something that galvanized them, but you shouldn’t have to have that.
‘There was another picture that signals such a deep level of misogyny and sexism in that federation and in that man (Rubiales) at the final whistle, just grabbing his crotch.
‘What kind of upside-down world are we in? On the biggest stage, where you should be celebrating, Jenni (Hermoso) has to be physically assaulted by this guy.’
Hermoso said when questioned about the incident in the midst of Spain’s raucous dressing room that she ‘didn’t like it’, but the RFEF later issued a statement in the player’s name which downplayed the kiss, and urged focus back onto the historic World Cup win.
Rubiales first issued a blistering response to those who critcised his action, calling out ‘fools and idiots’ and the ‘bulls***’ they have spread and defending the ‘friendly’ kiss.
Rubiales appeared to grab his crotch in an obscene gesture next to Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter Infanta Sofia after the final whistle
But the president was forced into climbing down from the position as the controversy roiled on, with his actions attracting both widespread criticism on social media, and the attention of high-ranking Spanish officials, including the country’s Sports Minister Miquel Iceta, against the backdrop of a video appearing to show Rubiales grabbing his crotch in celebration whilst standing next to the 16-year-old Infanta Sofia.
Iceta insisted that Rubiales should apologise and be concerned with watching his behaviour in light of his ‘public responsibilities’, calling the kiss ‘unacceptable’.
Rubiales later admitted that he had ‘made a mistake’ in a ‘moment of great emotion’ but the public about-face was unable to put the incident to bed, as it was revealed that the president had tried to talk Hermoso into appearing in an apology with him three times, even appealing to her family to convince the player to take part in the public show of unity.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez deemed Rubiales’ apology ‘not adequate’ as calls grew louder for the federation head to resign, with Spain’s acting Equality Minister, Irene Montero, calling the act ‘sexual violence’.
Long before his behaviour threatened to overshadow Spain’s World Cup triumph, Rubiales cut a controversial figure at the top of the Spanish football federation.
But Rubiales (right) has long cut a divisive figure at the head of the Spanish federation
The executive’s staunch support of head coach Jorge Vilda (right) has attracted attention
Starting XI players including Mapi Leon (left) remain unavailable for national team selection
He has been a long-running and staunch supporter of divisive head coach Jorge Vilda, whose continuing presence in the national side saw 15 of his players go on strike last September over allegations of his controlling behaviour.
12 of the players who took themselves out of contention for the national team during the protest later made themselves available for World Cup squad selection, but the Spanish team went without luminaries including Barcelona stars Mapi Leon and Patricia Guijarro in Australia and New Zealand.
Rubiales praised Vilda as a ‘hard-working man’ who had survived attempts to ‘destroy him’ ahead of the World Cup final, and celebrated with his head coach after the trophy lift on Sunday.
Vilda has become involved in his own consent controversy in the wake of Sunday’s final, as footage circulated on Wednesday of the coach appearing to grab the breast of a female staff member whilst celebrating Olga Carmona’s World Cup-winning goal.
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