The second victory of the world champions

Spain has done a masterclass in power and machismo in a week.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
26 August 2023 Saturday 10:21
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The second victory of the world champions

Spain has done a masterclass in power and machismo in a week. Seven days have passed since the end of the World Cup in which the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, forcibly kissed Jennifer Hermoso. There was no immediate reaction, but seven days later she is out. The FIFA disciplinary commission has already suspended him on a provisional basis, after the soccer players themselves gave up playing if Rubiales continued in the position. The Government has launched the removal of him.

In the end, outside of football, a movement has been generated in support of the footballer and fed up with the abuses of power labeled with the

The explanation for this twist is due to the fact that we have seen live and direct the crude explanations given by the president of the federation about the "beak", as he calls the forced kiss, added to the lack of modesty when trying to manipulate, lie and blame the footballer to save her public image. That kiss that for many went unnoticed is now seen as an abuse of power over a subordinate and an assault on a woman.

“It is no longer just feminists,” explains the expert on sexual violence Alba Alfageme, “it is a large part of society that believes that those who act like this must be removed from office, to defend the values ​​of equality and for health democratic”.

The social learning of these seven days begins with the scene of the non-consensual kiss on Sunday during the medal ceremony. “We all saw the same thing and we also heard Hermoso express the lack of prior consent in the locker room. But it took us a while to become aware of what happened, which shows how natural this behavior is", continues Alfageme. "The event connected with the experience of many women in their jobs, with the fear of not being believed, that they think that they have part of the responsibility," adds Beatriz Gimeno, activist and former director of the Women's Institute.

At first, and in the absence of a social reaction, Rubiales downplayed ("a bollocks"), pressured, with the help of coach Jorge Vilda, for the player to appear in a video with him apologizing ("for my children", he begged ) and, faced with the refusal, he reluctantly apologized to society (“I have to apologize, I have no choice, right?”).

The awkward words (“I was surely wrong” or “there was no bad faith on either side”, implicating Hermoso in the action) opened the eyes of more citizens. They are accompanied by public comments such as that of sports journalists, downplaying the action: “sexual assault? It's not a big deal" or assuring that "those who get angry is because they have never kissed them."

Hermoso speaks for the second time and demands, through the Futpro union, "exemplary measures" against the president of the RFEF by the federation and the Higher Sports Council so that acts like this "do not go unpunished." The newspaper AS headlines Jenni drops Rubiales, reversing the burden of proof

In the middle of the week, two more images of Rubiales' uncontained effusiveness during the World Cup went viral: in the first, he carried Athena del Castillo on his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. In the second, he clutches his genitals after Spain's goal.

By then, there are already many who find its continuity unbearable. “You begin to better understand how the power structure works in football and the submission to which women have been seen in all these years,” explains Gimeno. The 15 players retaliated against for daring to protest against the coach or those others who denounced degrading treatment by Ignacio Quereda, coach of the women's team for 27 years, are remembered.

The fear that the federation inspires in light of the clamorous silences of players is understandable.

Other institutions have pushed, such as the Government, which from the outset considered Rubiales' behavior unacceptable and demanded consequences. And there have been courageous actions such as Getafe or Sant Andreu, standing out against whoever holds the power to give or withdraw financial contributions. That of Isco Alarcón, when no footballer had supported Hermoso, or the withdrawal of Betis striker Borja Iglesias from the team.

And in other areas. The journalist José A. de la Rosa resigning from As for the "inadmissible" cover. Or the Navarrese coach Ana Llundain, an employee of the federation, who revealed that this is "the tip of the iceberg and it is not going to stop." She feared the consequences of the tweet on her and her family "but it's okay to have to put up with abuse, favoritism, contempt, comments and macho attitudes...". Or the former marketing director of the Association of Spanish Soccer Players (AFE) who has explained the insulting treatment she received from Rubiales while they worked together.

All this contrasted with the silence or lukewarmness of the powerful football clubs, trapped in the web of economic interests, or of some sponsors, not all, who came to say that they were for equality, but that the matter should not blur what truly important, the result of the world cup.

On Friday, the day of the assembly in which Rubiales is supposed to resign, the noise on the networks is already deafening. Even sportswriters who had scoffed at the issue "now see it."

Against all odds, Rubiales ties the males, blames the player for her attitude and in a bullfighting gesture, front door or infirmary, challenges society. He stays, he won't resign over a trifle. The assembly cheers him.

Outside, he does not receive much more support. “It becomes unbearable, almost no one wants this individual to occupy a position in society anymore,” says the psychologist. Hermoso's companions (who for the third time denies consent and accuses Rubiales of lying) break their silence. The champions demand "real changes, both sporting and structural" or they will not go out on the field again. The lionesses, their English opponents in the final, support them with a statement.

It's only been five days since they won the World Cup and they are about to get another victory. The wave of "it's over" or "enough is enough" is unleashed. Harry Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Plácido Domingo, Nevanka... There is a story about the injustice of inequality that is emerging again and many women and men express their desire to be part of the change.