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“Se Acabó”: Spanish football chief sacked after kissing forward Jenni Hermoso

Updated: Jun 9

Non-consensual kiss overshadowed Spain’s historic World Cup win, sparking conversation about misogyny in sports


By: Alessandra Puglisi


PHOTOGRAPH: Creative Commons/Alejandro Reguero


On the 20th of August, after 105 minutes, referee Tori Penso decreed the ending of the game – bringing the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to an end, and crowning Spain World champions. The euphoria of this historic victory, however, was short-lived: as a most shocking turn of events unfolded.  


A video that quickly went viral shows how during the medal ceremony Luis Rubiales – president of the Spanish Football Federation and one of UEFA’s vice presidents – grabs forward Jenni Hermoso’s face and kisses her on the mouth without consent. 


Following an uproar over his actions, Rubiales issued an apology while downplaying the accident as “something normal, natural and not in any way in bad faith.” The football chief claimed that the kiss had been “mutual and with consent.”


Rubiales’ words were not received kindly by Hermoso, who wrote a long Instagram post about the incident. 


She said: “At no time… was his kiss ever consensual. I want to reiterate as I did before that I did not like this incident… I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.”


Support for Jenni Hermoso has mobilised from all over the world, and her situation has shaken women’s football – demanding consequences not only for Rubiales’ behaviour, but also for the systematic issues that keep occurring particularly in women’s sports.    


The thunderstorm of criticism did not deter Rubiales at first. In a special assembly convened by the Spanish Football Federation, Rubiales announced that he would not resign, and that a “social assassination” against him was taking place. 


The results of this position resulted in a 90-day suspension from all football-related activities from FIFA and, most importantly, a refusal signed by 81 Spanish players to answer the national team call-up, including the entire World Cup squad.


Messages and statements of support for Hermoso poured in from players and teams, both at club and national level, including silver medallists England’s Lionesses, who have demanded action be taken “against any forms of harassment.”  


It is important to point out that this moment has been a long time coming for the Spanish team, who had already raised concerns after the Women’s Euro in 2022 about the “emotional state”, “training methods” and “inadequate game preparation” against their coach, Jorge Vilda, and the Spanish Federation in general. 


Spain’s captain, Alexia Putellas, addressed the changes that the players demanded in an interview: “[We want] zero tolerance for what everyone saw, towards things that weren’t seen because they weren’t live… and structural changes because for decades women’s football hasn’t been a priority.”


After a prolonged public outcry, the Spanish FA apologised to the players and fired Luis Rubiales from his position, along with coach Jorge Vilda, and General Secretary Andreu Camps. 


While many changes are still on the table for both the players and the Spanish Football Federation, the World Cup champions have already returned on the field under the guide of Montserrat Tomé for the first game of the Women’s Nations League.


Each of the players donned bracelets with the phrase ‘Se Acabó’ (it’s over) and posed behind a banner saying ‘Our Fight Is The Global Fight’ in support of Jenni Hermoso.  


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