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Soccer Fans Divided Over 3-Year Ban for Rubiales

Critics say the behavior of the former president of the Spanish Soccer Federation was symptomatic of the inequality between male and female players.
Abby Langton
Jerseys for the Spain’s national women’s soccer team are sold at the flagship store for the team sponsor’s Adidas. But they aren’t as ubiquitous as jerseys for the men’s sport.

Sports fans find themselves divided on FIFA’s decision regarding Luis Rubiales’ three year ban for harassing female players during the Women’s World Cup final celebrations in August of 2023.

“There’s so much inequality in football between men and women,” said Ana Maria Morante, 43, “As a man working in women’s football, he took advantage of the moment. He deserves his punishment,” she added.

Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Federation, was originally put on a 90 day leave after kissing Jenni Hermoso, a forward for Spain’s women national team, on the lips and also grabbing his crotch during the celebration following the Spain women’s national football team’s World Cup win. Spain beat England 1-0, resulting in the team’s first World Cup win.

After the initial conflict there were calls for Rubiales to step down. Protests broke out throughout the nation calling for Rubiales resignation. The Olive Press News reported that roughly 5,000 people attended the protest held in Madrid.

Two weeks after the kiss occurred, Spain’s men’s football team then condemned the actions of Rubiales. Álvaro Morata, the captain of the team, read the statement saying that Rubiales actions were “unacceptable behavior” as reported by the Guardian.

Rubiales then held a press conference announcing that he would not be resigning. After this comment, the Spanish government filed a case against Rubiales in an attempt to remove him from his position. Hermoso also filed a criminal complaint against him and FIFA finally suspended him. In September, Rubiales stepped down from his position.

Rubiales has been charged with sexual assault in coercion in Spanish courts following the kiss and his treatment of Hermoso following the event. After months of discussion, FIFA announced Rubiales would face a three-year-ban from involvement in any football-related activities.

The U.S. women’s team, which has pushed for equal pay for women soccer players for a decade, voiced support for Jenni Hermoso and denounced the actions of Rubiales.

The push for equal pay within the United States Soccer Federation led to more conversation internationally regarding the treatment of women in soccer.

Sean Rivero, 23, follows both male and female sports. He watched Spain’s women’s national team win the World Cup and was surprised by what occurred during the team’s celebration. It made him reflect on the general treatment of female players.

“Female athletes are already being pretty much exploited and also are not being paid enough at all,” he said.

Lau Dodd, 21, also found Rubiales treatment of female athletes to be poor.

“The situation made me feel like people don’t take women’s feelings or accomplishments seriously,” Dodd said. “He overshadowed the win because he felt the need to intrude on somebody’s space without consent. The focus should have been on the women’s hard work and their win,” they added.

Carolina Arevalo, 21, followed the Women’s World Cup closely. She was rooting for the Spanish Women’s National Team, hoping they would receive their first title.

“On one hand I was surprised to see the kiss, since the event was live for millions to watch and I did not expect that whatsoever, but knowing Women’s Football and its history with sexism, AND Spanish football and the machismo culture surrounding it, I’m not as surprised.” said Arevalo.

Beatriz Aguilera Reyes, 23, felt similarly to Arevalo. Reyes, an avid supporter of Spain’s women’s football team, was busy celebrating the team’s win that she missed the kiss as it aired on television. After celebrating, she noticed the social media reaction to the kiss and began following updates about the situation closely.

“I followed the news after and I found it quite insulting and frustrating when it all blew up,” Reyes said. “And not only was Rubiales trying to get her to say something to lighten the situation, but also the coach, Jorge Vilda,” she added.

Jorge Vilda, the past coach of the women’s team, was fired in September of 2023, under a month after the World Cup win. Vilda was replaced by Montse Tomé, who became the first woman to hold a position in Spanish national team history.

Reyes also found that Rubiales actions overshadowed the success of the team.

“I really believe it was a bigger thing than the World Cup itself,” Reyes said. “I find it very unfair because the team had to overcome so much to be able to be there and be recognized as football players all for a man in power to take the spotlight from them,” she added.

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Abby Langton
Abby Langton, Editor-in-Chief
Abby Langton, a senior and communication major, is the Editor-in-Chief of The NewSLU. She has covered hard news, features and sports.

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