Women’s football fans in the UK have criticised the conduct of the Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales, adding the fallout from the row is unfairly overshadowing the Spanish team’s World Club win.
Mr Rubiales kissed Spain’s Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the team beat England in the final in Sydney last Sunday.
His conduct has been widely condemned with Fifa suspending Mr Rubiales on Saturday for an “initial period of 90 days”.
Meanwhile, 81 Spanish players have said they will not play for the country until Mr Rubiales resigns, while 11 members of the coaching team of Jorge Vilda – head coach of the Spanish women’s team – have resigned, citing the “unacceptable attitude” of Mr Rubiales.
Mr Rubiales has refused to resign, describing the situation as a “manhunt”, and said he will defend himself “so that the truth prevails and complete innocence is proven” – while the Spanish government started legal proceedings seeking to suspend him.
Female football fans and players in the UK have lamented the fact that the situation is dominating the headlines and detracting from Spain’s win.
Catherine D’Rozario, 62, who has been playing football since she was 14, said she was in disbelief at the Spanish Football Federation’s threat to sue Ms Hermoso.
“It is just incomprehensible. It’s no wonder women don’t come forward – and this was all on show.
“What I find outrageous is they [the Spanish Football Federation] are now saying Hermoso has not told the truth.”
Ms D’Rozario, who is a teacher for blind and visually impaired children and has been a member of the Palace for Life Foundation’s Crystal Palace Walking Football Team since 2018, said Mr Rubiales must go.
“Players I spoke to at training on Thursday have come out in support of Jenni Hermoso. You wouldn’t have seen that sort of behaviour after the final if it had been a man,” she said.
“I’m hoping that he [Mr Rubiales] will see sense in the end and resign.
“What is so upsetting also is this has now taken the emphasis away from Spain’s World Cup win. The team should be basking in the glory of that. They’re a very talented side. They should be celebrating and the talk should be about the win, the skills they have and how they can push forward women’s football. Instead, the talk is about this situation. It’s a real shame.
“I think the way this has been handled kind of belittles what they think of women’s football; they should have just got rid of him without hesitation so that the emphasis is on the winning team, about how they’ve achieved so much by winning the Women’s World Cup. That’s what the focus should have been on.”
Ms Rozario’s thoughts were echoed by Emily Holyrood, 33, who is a player and club secretary at Brighouse Sports Ladies Football Club in West Yorkshire.
“If it happened at my club I’d be absolutely mortified and if somebody so much as upset one of my players they’d be gone,” said Ms Holroyd.
“So I don’t understand why they’re pussyfooting around it. He [Mr Rubiales] has no right to do what he did.
“If I was in his position, I wouldn’t go up to a team player and kiss him on the lips. For one, I would straightaway think it’s wrong, and secondly, he could potentially have a partner or wife.”
She added that is was a “shame” that the row had dominated the headlines rather than Spain’s win.
“Also, think about the rest of the team,” said Ms Holyrod, who is a civil servant. “How must they feel?”
Hollie Varney, chief operating officer of Kick It Out, added: “The Spanish women’s football team should have spent the last week basking in the glory of a Women’s World Cup victory and debating what positive changes it could lead to.
“Instead, an incident that would be deemed as gross misconduct in any workplace has overshadowed their victory. The actions of Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales are inexcusable, and he has rightly been condemned by players across the globe, who know only too well of the sexism and misogyny that still exists in women’s football.
“Spanish players have previously tried to highlight the behaviours of their manager and federation, but the last week has shown the true extent of what they are up against. There has been a complete lack of accountability and it is now up to international bodies such as Fifa and Uefa, or the Spanish government, to step in to try and resolve these issues and ask whether those in charge at the Spanish FA are fit to lead.
“It is grossly unfair that the players have needed to highlight their federation’s behaviour again, at the very moment the team became world champions. Their noble stance in refusing to play for their country shows they are leaders away from the pitch too, and we stand in support of Jenni Hermoso and all players who have been affected by this.”