The kiss affair, Spain and football

Luis Rubiales wants to remain president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) despite the controversy over his kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without asking following the Spanish national football team’s victory in the Women’s World Cup. But he’s on very thin ice now: Fifa has suspended Rubiales for 90 days and opened disciplinary proceedings against him. And both Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the coach of the women’s national team Jorge Vilda — also a controversial figure — have publicly condemned hisbehaviour. Europe’s press comments.

El Mundo (ES) /

Not a man of the 21st century

El Mundo is outraged at how many transgressions Rubiales has been able to afford:

“Rubiales is an amoral person who is unaware of the responsibilities of his office. If he stays, he will feel he can get away with anything and behave accordingly. ... His management is full of irregularities and conflicts of interest: the scandal over millions in commissions for hosting the [Spanish] Super Cup in Saudi Arabia; a party with women at a federation meeting; the spying on journalists. ... A lot has to change in the federation for it to become a clean organisation. And a lot of educational work needs to be done so that football ceases to be a repository for behaviour and people that have no place in a 21st century society.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Fifa suspension hypocritical

The debate should not focus solely on Luis Rubiales, says taz:

“Understanding players as the federation’s property is a central part of the self-image of Fifa officials. But they are — one almost wants to say unfortunately — not quite as stupid as Rubiales. The world federation is trailing behind, but it is trying to put itself at the head of the wave of criticism. ... And Fifa has realised that in order to defend its own power against the women’s players who are up in arms and supported by Spanish civil society, it has to make a pawn sacrifice. If Fifa manages to defend its power so cheaply, this will jeopardise the major victory that the campaigning women footballers now stand to win.”

Martin Krauss
Der Standard (AT) /

Football dominated by machos

Der Standard is appalled that so few men are showing solidarity with the women players:

“The protest has remained mainly female. Only a few commendable individuals have shown solidarity, and just a few teams made the minimal gesture of donning t-shirts with slogans in their support. And the worst is that Rubiales actually believes he can get away with his preposterous speech to the federation’s extraordinary general assembly in which he reversed the roles of perpetrator and victim. Meanwhile, UEFA has not said a word about the actions of its vice-president, and ‘honourable’ officials like Bavaria’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge find the kiss ‘absolutely okay’. All this speaks volumes about the football system today.”

Martin Schauhuber
De Standaard (BE) /

Very revealing

The Rubiales scandal shows just how much Spain is struggling with feminism, De Standaard comments:

“As in many other countries, a culture war is raging in Spain, fueled by men who cannot cope with empowered women. ... The PP and Vox have taken up the case — a dismissal over a kiss is an ideal symbol in this culture war. But a growing number of well-known names, football teams and sponsors are distancing themselves from the Spanish Football Federation president. It will be interesting to see whether Rubiales is sent off the pitch in disgrace or taken in by a party that wants to use his victim status to win votes. Only then will we know how far feminism has come in Spain.”

Corry Hancké
Denik (CZ) /

Sport lost in all the controversy

Deník’s chief commentator Martin Komárek says the debate has gone far enough:

“Sexual coercion and any form of abuse of power or social dominance deserve the strongest condemnation. And it is true that there is a fine line between flirting, seduction, provocation and coercion. However, the reactions to a joyful kiss are hysterical. Anyone with eyes in their head can see that. But the indignant will disagree and say: Do you know where rape begins? — The answer is simple. If the footballer had slapped Rubiales, it would have been clear that she was angry about being kissed on the mouth. ... More attention should be paid to the performances on the pitch.”

Martin Komárek