The kissing scandal surrounding the now resigned president of the association, Luis Rubiales, has finally plunged Spanish women's football into chaos after the recent World Cup title. After their nomination for the first two matches of the UEFA Nations League, the national players around world footballer Alexia Putellas surprisingly announced late on Monday evening that they would continue their international strike. The grotesque thing about it: A few hours earlier, the new national coach Montse Tomé had assured journalists in Madrid that she had spoken to the footballers she had nominated and that none of them had refused to take part in the matches on Friday in Sweden and on Tuesday at home against Switzerland.
Rubiales had kissed the player Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth at the award ceremony after the final triumph of the Spaniards over England on August 20 in Sydney without being asked, triggering huge outrage worldwide. FIFA, the world's governing body, suspended the 46-year-old for 90 days and launched an investigation. After much resistance, the functionary recently resigned from his post as RFEF chief. The Spanish judiciary launched an investigation.
Players call for further resignations
But that wasn't enough for the footballers. 21 members of the World Cup squad and 18 other top players demanded, among other things, the dismissal of RFEF interim boss Pedro Rocha and other officials close to Rubiales. In order to emphasise their demands, they announced an international strike.
After the nomination of 15 world champions and the words of Tomé, it was assumed in Spain that the walkout had been called off. However, the communiqué published shortly before midnight by Aitana Bonmatí, who was named the best World Cup player, on X, formerly Twitter, states, among other things: "(...) our firm intention not to be nominated for legitimate reasons (...) remains fully valid." Hermoso had not been appointed by Tomé. On the reasons for the non-nomination of the 33-year-old, the coach, who had replaced Jorge Vilda, who was fired after the World Cup in the wake of the scandal, had said that they wanted to "protect" Hermoso.
Association issues ultimatum
According to media reports, the association had offered the striking players personnel changes in the organization only on Sunday, but at the same time also gave them an ultimatum, which expired at 0 a.m. in the night from Sunday to Monday. Accordingly, the RFEF threatened with fines and multi-year bans for those players who refused to compete for "La Roja". For the time being, there was no official confirmation of this information.
On Monday, the RFEF issued a communiqué on the occasion of the squad nomination and stressed: "We guarantee a safe environment for the players and are committed to a climate of mutual trust in order to jointly ensure that women's football develops even more strongly in the future."
To this day, Rubiales maintains that the kiss immediately after the World Cup victory was by mutual agreement. Hermoso said, however, that she "felt like the victim of an impulsive, sexist and inappropriate act that I did not agree with." The player filed a complaint, thus enabling the public prosecutor's office to file a criminal complaint with the Supreme Court. The investigating judge must now decide whether Rubiales will be put in the dock. He faces a prison sentence of up to four years.