Spain’s Men’s National Team Denounces Luis Rubiales
Spain's men's national team captains have expressed their strong disapproval of the "unacceptable behavior" exhibited by the president of the soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, as a gesture of solidarity with the women's World Cup-winning team.
This marks the initial public statement made by the prominent Spanish players against Rubiales, following his inappropriate action of kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent after the World Cup final. Additionally, he engaged in a crude and offensive victory gesture last month in Sydney by grabbing his crotch.
Rubiales has received a provisional suspension from FIFA and is currently facing a legal case brought by the Spanish government due to his conduct, which sparked a wave of criticism and led to widespread demands for his resignation.
“We want to reject what we consider unacceptable behavior on the part of Mr. Rubiales, who has not lived up to the institution he represents,” Álvaro Morata said during a news conference at the national team’s headquarters in Madrid. “We firmly and unequivocally stand on the side of the values that this sport represents. Spanish soccer must be a driving force for respect, inspiration, inclusion and diversity, and must set an example with its behavior both on and off the field.”
Morata, accompanied by his fellow team captains César Azpilicueta, Rodri, and Marco Asensio, delivered the statement. Meanwhile, the other Spanish players were present in the room as the statement was being read. The players expressed that Rubiales' behavior had cast a shadow over the women's victory.
“It’s a historic milestone filled with significance that will mark a before and after in Spanish women’s football, inspiring countless women with an invaluable triumph,” they said. “Therefore, we want to express our regret and solidarity with the players whose success has been tarnished.”
The players voiced their concerns as Spain's national team commenced its preparations for the forthcoming European Championship qualifiers against Georgia and Cyprus. They also made it clear that they do not intend to discuss the situation involving Rubiales further.
“We would like to focus on sporting matters from now on, considering the importance of the challenges ahead,” they said.
Spain's men's coach, Luis de la Fuente, initially applauded Rubiales' remarks condemning what he referred to as "false feminists" while also refusing to step down from his position. However, he later apologized on Friday, acknowledging that he had made a mistake, stating, "I made a human error, and it was inexcusable."
On the same day, later in the evening, several hundred people staged a protest against Luis Rubiales in Barcelona. Hermoso also joined the mass strike, saying she did not consent to the kiss.
Last week, Luis Rubiales' mother, Angeles Bejar, was hospitalized after conducting a multi-day hunger strike in protest of what she deemed the "inhumane treatment" of her son. Two days before her hospitalization, Bejar declared an "indefinite" hunger strike, vowing not to eat until she perceived an end to what she referred to as a relentless and unjust campaign against her son, who she believed did not deserve such treatment.