The antics of Spain’s football federation president Luis Rubiales at Sunday’s World Cup final highlight the level of “misogyny and sexism” within the organisation, American star Megan Rapinoe has said.
Rubiales issued an apology on Monday for kissing Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation ceremony, something Rapinoe described as a “physical assault”, and was also pictured grabbing his crotch in celebration of his country’s win over England in Sydney.
He is still facing calls to resign, with Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez describing the apology as “insufficient”.
The Spanish federation (RFEF) announced on Tuesday night it had called an extraordinary meeting of its general assembly for Friday, and that “internal proceedings” were open in relation to integrity issues arising from the trophy ceremony.
Rapinoe, who featured in the World Cup for the United States, told American magazine The Atlantic: “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 has to be physically assaulted by this guy.”
Fifteen Spain players were involved in a dispute with the federation prior to the finals, with the coaching methods of Jorge Vilda reportedly among their concerns.
However, the RFEF refused to budge, with a statement saying those involved would only be able to return to the national team “if they accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.
“Think how much that Spanish team had to shoulder: some of the players who stood up way back last year still aren’t on the team,” Rapinoe said.
“Maybe that was something that galvanised them, but you shouldn’t have to have that.”
Rubiales said on Monday the kiss happened “in a spontaneous way” and “without bad intention” but said it “seems like it has caused a commotion”.
Hermoso initially said on social media she “didn’t like” the kiss but a statement on her behalf was later released by the RFEF in which she described it as “spontaneous”.
FIFA has so far not issued any comment on the matter, and nor has UEFA, for whom Rubiales is an executive committee member and a vice-president.
World players’ union FIFPRO described Rubiales’ behaviour as “deeply lamentable”, adding: “Uninitiated and uninvited physical gestures towards players are not appropriate or acceptable in any context.
“This is especially true when players are put in a position of vulnerability because a physical approach or gesture is initiated by a person who holds power over them.”
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