By Ava Lee-Green

Photo of Jenni Hermoso by Alejandro Reguero via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite it being less than a week since the Spanish Women’s National Soccer Team won the Women’s World Cup, their victory has been somewhat overshadowed by serious allegations against the Spanish Soccer Federation (RFEF). After non-consensually kissing Spanish soccer player, Jenni Hermoso, President of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales, has been the center of a major controversy that transcends the soccer community. 

In recent years, the RFEF has been in the middle of multiple controversies. In fact, 15 of the women’s national team players announced in 2022 that they would not play in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, citing the negative effects of head coach Jorge Vilda’s coaching on their mental and physical health. Instead of addressing these concerns, the RFEF backed Vilda. 

Now, the RFEF is being heavily criticized for supporting Rubiales and defending his actions. These past two weeks have highlighted the significant failures of systems that protect women around the world.

Timeline

Finding support within community

Despite the ongoing investigation gaining the spotlight instead of their historic World Cup win, the Spanish Women’s National Team has found support from within the team, as well as the international soccer community. 

In response to Rubiales’ actions, many teams in the NWSL, the women’s soccer league in the U.S., have demonstrated their solidarity for Hermoso and the Spanish team by wearing tape on their wrists saying “Contigo Jenni!” (meaning “with you Jenni!”). Many players have also released statements condemning Rubiales and reaffirming their support for the women.

“I’m disgusted by the public actions of Luis Rubiales. I stand by Jenni Hermoso and the Spanish players. Winning a World Cup should be one of the best moments in these player’s lives but instead, it’s overshadowed by assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation.”

- Alex Morgan, USWNT Captain

Although, as of August 31, Rubiales still has not been removed from his position, it is clear that the solidarity between the Spanish team and the international soccer community has been effective in not letting Rubiales or the RFEF sweep this incident under the rug. 

Now, almost two full weeks after the unwanted kiss on international television, it has been revealed to the world that many institutions, like the RFEF, are willing to defend people like Luis Rubiales. Few systems aim to protect survivors without ulterior motives and they often have major shortcomings. 

However, this situation has also highlighted how, when communities come together, like soccer players around the world standing up for Jenni Hermoso, progress can happen. 


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