Hermoso denies Rubiales kiss was consensual as World Cup-winning team say they won't return

"I won't tolerate my word being put in doubt and much less that they invent words I didn't say," Spain forward says in statement 

Spain's World Cup-winning team lift the trophy
Spain's World Cup-winning team lift the trophy / Casa Reial
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

August 25, 2023 08:42 PM

August 25, 2023 09:22 PM

Spain forward Jenni Hermoso has denied that she consented to the forced kiss from football federation president Luis Rubiales after last Sunday's World Cup final. 

In addition, the World Cup-winning squad has announced in a joint statement that they will not return to the international team until Rubiales is no longer in his post.

"I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, in no moment did I consent to the kiss that he gave me, and of course, under no circumstances did I hoist up the president," Hermoso said in a statement given through the player's union, FutPro. 

The joint statement, signed by 81 different players, including Hermoso, two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas, and one of the players of the tournament, Aitana Bonmatí, along with all other members of the World Cup squad, finished with a plea for "real structural changes." 

"After everything that happened in the medal ceremony, we want to communicate that all the players signing this letter will not return to the national team if the current directorship continues."

This comes only months after more than half of the squad walked out over a labor dispute with the Spanish Football Federation and coach Jorge Vilda. Many top players, such as FC Barcelona's Mapi León or Patri Guijarro, refused to return to compete in the World Cup. 

In a personal statement, Jenni Hermoso underlines that Rubiales' version of events are "completely false," she described the forced kiss as "machista," and confirmed that she feels "a victim of an assault." 

"Sincerely, I felt disrespected."

Hermoso also explained that she felt under "constant pressure" to speak publicly about the topic and explain that Rubiales' actions were justified, and added that people close to her were also put under similar pressures. 

"We don't deserve a culture so manipulative, hostile, and controlling." 

"Zero tolerance with these behaviors." 

Rubiales refuses to resign

Luis Rubiales gave an explosive speech at a federation EGM on Friday afternoon in which he refused to resign, contrary to all expectations.

After a week that saw the scandal spread across the world and the number of voices calling for the resignation of Rubiales grow and grow, the federation president railed against what he termed "false feminism" which he termed "the great scourge of this country." Those in attendance at the meeting gave Rubiales a round of applause for these words. 

Unrepentant, Rubiales began the speech by commenting on the number of messages of support he has received in the past days, which he says far outnumber the criticism he has gotten, and shook his head as he offered a brief apology "to the royal family and to those who felt offended." 

Downplaying the Hermoso kiss as a "peck," Rubiales also claimed that he asked Hermoso permission for the kiss on the podium, and also made the argument that it was the player who first grabbed and hugged him during the medal ceremony. According to Rubiales, Hermoso told him after the kiss, "you're great" ("eres un crack.") In the latest statement given through the union FutPro, Hermoso has completely denied this to be the case.

Government aims to force Rubiales out

Spain's Superior Sports Board ('Consejo Superior de Deportes', CSD), the government body in charge of sports, has promised they will act and force Rubiales' dismissal. 

In a press conference on Friday evening, Víctor Francos, president of the CSD, said that the body will present a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the federation president.

Francos said that this could be the "Me Too moment of Spanish football", and pointed out that the process that the government body is undertaking is a very difficult one, as such, they don't want to come up against legal challenges that could see the case fall apart.

The CSD chief also explained that the government did not want to act until Friday's EGM at the football federation, in which Rubiales was widely expected to resign, but did not. "The results [of the EGM] were not satisfactory in the eyes of the government."

"Rubiales did not live up to what was expected of him by the players, the government, and Spanish society. He has let us down with his reaction," Francos said.

CAS will now evaluate the case and open the door for Rubiales to be suspended from his post. Francos explained that the CSD are sending their own case to CAS, separate to other complaints that have already been made about Rubiales. 

"We will suspend [Rubiales] from his functions if CAS agrees that what happened classifies as serious misconduct," Francos announced.   

Spanish prosecutors have referred four complaints of alleged sexual assault against Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales to Spain's National Court.