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United States Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan is among those who are “disgusted” by the actions of Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales following Spain’s victory over England in the championship game of the World Cup.
Morgan offered her support for Jenni Hermoso and other players on the Spanish team:
She wasn’t the only one to criticize Rubiales from the American team, as Megan Rapinoe told Franklin Foer of The Atlantic his actions represented a “deep level of misogyny and sexism in that federation and in that man.”
Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens of ESPN noted Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips during the postgame celebration and “was also seen effusively hugging other Spain players and kissing them on the cheek.”
What’s more, he also “grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture with 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofía and Queen Letizia of Spain standing nearby.”
While it was previously believed that Rubiales was going to resign, Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez of ESPN reported he instead defiantly refused to do so during a speech. In response, Spain’s government began legal proceedings as it works toward eventually suspending him.
Rubiales said the kiss was “mutual, euphoric and consensual.” He also suggested it was not a “serious” enough incident to resign following “the best management in the history of Spanish football.”
As for the grabbing of his crotch area, Rubiales attempted to explain his actions and offered an apology:
“In a moment of euphoria, I grabbed that part of my body. I was looking at [coach] Jorge Vilda. We’ve been through a lot this year. People have wanted to do the same to [Vilda] that people are doing to me, with a false narrative. We’ve suffered a lot. I got very emotional and lost control. … I must apologise to the Queen, the Infanta and the Royal Household. My sincere apologies.”
Morgan and Rapinoe were not the only ones who offered their criticism of Rubiales.
Kirkland and Faez noted Real Betis player Borja Iglesias said he will not participate for Spain’s men’s team as long as the RFEF president is still in place. Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said Rubiales’ response was “insufficient and inadequate,” and acting second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz called for his resignation.
Rubiales was elected as the RFEF president in 2018 and has been at the center of a number of controversies.
Marsden and Llorens listed some of them, including when the Spanish Footballers Association (AFE) called for his resignation when he allegedly spied on the group’s president, David Aganzo. Rubiales also publicly supported Jorge Vilda, who is the coach of Spain’s national women’s team, when 15 players said they were not comfortable playing for him.
Of those 15 players, only three returned for the World Cup.
Seven refused to play, while five others were not selected to the roster.
Despite the issues with the federation, the players were excellent throughout the tournament and capped off their championship with a 1-0 victory over England.