Spain’s women’s football coach has described the World Cup kissing row as “a real nonsense” that has “tarnished a well-deserved victory” for the players and the country.
Jorge Vilda told Spanish sports site La Marca: “The events that have taken place since Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in its history and to this day have been a real nonsense and have generated an unprecedented situation, tarnishing a well-deserved victory for our players and our country.”
He added that Spain’s victory has been “harmed” by the “inappropriate behaviour” of Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales after he grabbed player Jenni Hermoso’s face and kissed her on the lips following their 1-0 win against England in the World Cup final.
“There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular,” he said.
On Saturday, FIFA took the decision to suspend Rubiales for 90 days.
Victor Francos Diaz, president of the Spanish government’s High Council of Sport (CSD), said it “respects the decision”.
He said that while the “facts are analysed and investigated” it is right that “the person responsible for the events is suspended from his duties”.
Appearing to criticise Rubiales for the first time, he added: “I think that when, as he said yesterday, when someone insistently says that he is going in the wrong direction, perhaps he must think that it is he who is going in the wrong direction.”
Mr Francos previously said that although Rubiales can’t be sacked by the government, the sports council will use a legal procedure in a sports tribunal.
“We want this to be a ‘Me Too’ of Spanish soccer,” he claimed.
Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward, said “in no moment” did she consent to the kiss. She and her teammates have since vowed not to play for Spain again.
Rubiales claimed he has been the victim of a witch-hunt by “false feminists”, vowing to defend his honour in court against politicians, including two ministers, who called his kiss an act of sexual violence.
In the version of events Rubiales gave to the Spanish Football Federation’s general assembly on Friday, he said Hermoso had lifted him up in celebration and he asked her for “a little kiss?” and she said yes.
“The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters,” he claimed, accusing her of “lying” about her lack of consent.
Before the kiss, Rubiales grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture from the section of dignitaries at the stadium, with Spain’s Queen Letizia and the 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia standing nearby.
But the Spanish FA has stood by its president, who says the kiss was consensual, and threatened legal action to defend him.
Meanwhile people have been gathering outside the Spanish Soccer Federation in Madrid to protest, with some carrying banners and holding up red cards.
Gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain in recent years with tens of thousands of women taking part in street marches protesting sexual abuse and violence.