In a resounding triumph for Spanish women's football, Jennifer Hermoso emerged as a key figure among the 23-woman squad that propelled their team to an unforgettable victory in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup final, etching a historic moment for Spain last Sunday in Sydney, Australia, with a memorable win over England.
However, the celebrations have been overshadowed by the inappropriate behavior of Luis Rubiales, the head of Spain's football federation (RFEF), who kissed Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation. The player was later seen saying "I didn't enjoy that" during a social media live connection.
Luis Rubiales, undeterred by the controversy surrounding his actions, has vehemently refused to resign from his role, calling the criticism a "witch-hunt" and accusing his detractors of engaging in "false feminism." He has characterized the uproar as a "social assassination" and declared his intention to fight against it. Rubiales' stance has sparked a nationwide debate about the response to his actions and the broader issue of misogyny in Spanish football.
The focus should remain on the talented women footballers such as Jennifer Hermoso and her teammates, who have achieved a significant milestone for Spanish football. Instead, the attention has shifted to Rubiales' inappropriate behavior. This shift in focus underscores the unfortunate reality that the achievements of female athletes are often overshadowed by controversies involving male figures.
It is important to acknowledge that the victim, in this case Jennifer Hermoso, should not be burdened with the responsibility of providing explanations or justifications for someone else's inappropriate actions. The onus lies on Rubiales to recognize his mistake and take appropriate accountability. Hermoso's outstanding contribution to her team's victory should not be tarnished by the actions of another.
Curiously, while Rubiales has remained defiant and unapologetic for the kiss, he expressed regret for a separate incident. During the jubilant celebration of Spain's goal, Rubiales made a regrettable gesture by touching his crotch while standing in close proximity to a minor and the Queen of Spain. This moment was widely criticized as being inappropriate and disrespectful by Spanish society, prompting Rubiales' subsequent apology.
Within Spain's social media landscape, critical voices have labeled Rubiales as an embodiment of "supremacista machista," a term that denounces male chauvinism and sexism. This characterization underscores the gravity of the situation and reflects the public sentiment that such incidents perpetuate harmful stereotypes and attitudes.
Rubiales' argument that the kiss was consensual has sparked a broader conversation about consent and power dynamics. The incident raises questions about whether an individual in a position of authority can truly obtain genuine consent in such a public and high-pressure setting. This controversy highlights the importance of discussing and understanding consent in various contexts.
While some may argue that the focus on Rubiales detracts from the celebration of the Spanish women's victory, it is crucial to address such incidents as they can contribute to the normalization of inappropriate behavior. By holding individuals accountable for their actions, society can work towards creating a safer and more respectful environment for female athletes and women in general.
It is essential to learn from this situation and strive for a future where such incidents do not overshadow the hard-earned successes of women in sports. Still, if he has some dignity left, he should resign and let the Spanish world champions move on from this unfortunate incident.