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The unwanted Spanish soccer kiss is textbook male chauvinism. Don’t excuse it | Moira Donegan

It was a moment of superlative achievement for Jenni Hermoso, the prolific scorer on Spain’s women’s national team. The 2023 tournament was Hermoso’s third World Cup – and, at 33, it may well have been her last. But it was the first Women’s World Cup she had won: in fact, the first Spain ever won. Sweaty and exhilarated, Hermoso joined her teammates after the match for a medal ceremony, a moment that for any athlete would mark the pinnacle of her career. And then Luis Rubiales, a Spanish soccer official, decided to make the moment about him. He grabbed Hermoso, in front of television cameras and thousands of onlookers, and forced his mouth on hers.

Hermoso, in that moment, was demeaned and downgraded by Rubiales, denied her triumph, stripped of her status, and shown not as the victorious athlete that she was, but as a woman, subject to men’s violence and whims. It was supposed to be the high point of her career; instead, he made it the moment when she was internationally humiliated, subjected to a sexual assault broadcast around the world.

Hermoso and her team had, in that moment, bested all their rivals for the World Cup title, and had prevailed in a difficult final match against England’s formidable national team, the Lionesses. But Rubiales made sure that she could not prevail over the gendered hierarchy, could not forget, even at her moment of accomplishment, that she was still vulnerable to the likes of him.

“I did not like it,” Hermoso later said of the kiss, on Instagram. The kiss, she said, was “an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part”.

The Spanish soccer federation initially backed Rubiales and threatened to sue Hermoso and the other players who complained; Hermoso alleged that she had faced pressure from soccer officials to downplay Rubiales’ behavior. “No person, in any work, sports, or social setting, should be a victim of these types of nonconsensual behaviors,” she said in a statement.

Rubiales claimed that the kiss was consensual, though he has backtracked and issued a tepid apology, saying in a video statement, “Surely I was wrong, I have to admit. It was without bad faith at a time of maximum effusiveness.” For his part, he continued his celebrations at the medal ceremony in an incident in which he stood next to the Spanish queen and her 16-year-old daughter, and grabbed his crotch.

The incident has sparked outrage in Spain and across the soccer-loving world, in part because no one was exactly surprised. Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup was an unlikely surprise precisely because of the rampant sexism that has long characterized the Spanish soccer authority and the women’s national team leadership.

Before the tournament, the Spanish team was facing long odds, because a dozen of their best players were on strike – to protest against sexism. The Spanish team’s two most recent coaches, Ignacio Quereda and Jorge Vilda, both faced accusations of sexist, controlling and aggressive behavior. The striking players have also complained, like the US women’s national team, of receiving lower pay and inferior facilities compared with their male counterparts.

In 2020, Rubiales stood trial for allegedly assaulting a female architect who was working on his home. According to the architect, Rubiales inflicted injuries to her ribs and wrist that took nearly a year to heal. A court found Rubiales not guilty, and the incident did not lead to Rubiales’ ouster from Spanish soccer.

Rubiales’ behavior illustrates something essential to the phenomenon of sexual harassment: how frequently it is a matter of contradicting women’s talents and achievement, and knocking them downNor did the publications of audio recordings in which Rubiales can be heard allegedly arranging for specific Spanish teams to gain entrance to tournaments. And nor did accusations that Rubiales was embezzling soccer federation funds and spending them on private parties and personal travel. Rubiales, who has not been convicted of any corruption charges, has refused to step down following each of these successive scandals and has always denied wrongdoing. His assault on Hermoso is no exception.

For all of the gruesome machismo of the kissing incident, Rubiales’ behavior illustrates something essential to the phenomenon of sexual harassment: how frequently it is a matter of contradicting women’s talents and achievement, and knocking them down.

For all the impunity he seems to enjoy at the head of Spanish soccer, Rubiales never had the athletic talent that Hermoso has. He had a brief and unremarkable early career as a defender before abruptly ending his time on the field to join the management side of the soccer business. He never played for clubs of the prestige that Hermoso plays for; he never developed, as she has, a signature style of play; he never played on a national team or in a World Cup; he never scored goals in anything like the numbers she does.

Hermoso is more talented than he is, and she is also younger, by 13 years. She is better than him, and she is the future. Faced with her achievement, her talent, her youth, perhaps Rubiales felt his own pathetic, boorish inadequacy reflected back on him. He reached for the most ready source of power that he could wield against her: his sex.

Summarize this content to 100 words It was a moment of superlative achievement for Jenni Hermoso, the prolific scorer on Spain’s women’s national team. The 2023 tournament was Hermoso’s third World Cup – and, at 33, it may well have been her last. But it was the first Women’s World Cup she had won: in fact, the first Spain ever won. Sweaty and exhilarated, Hermoso joined her teammates after the match for a medal ceremony, a moment that for any athlete would mark the pinnacle of her career. And then Luis Rubiales, a Spanish soccer official, decided to make the moment about him. He grabbed Hermoso, in front of television cameras and thousands of onlookers, and forced his mouth on hers.Hermoso, in that moment, was demeaned and downgraded by Rubiales, denied her triumph, stripped of her status, and shown not as the victorious athlete that she was, but as a woman, subject to men’s violence and whims. It was supposed to be the high point of her career; instead, he made it the moment when she was internationally humiliated, subjected to a sexual assault broadcast around the world.Hermoso and her team had, in that moment, bested all their rivals for the World Cup title, and had prevailed in a difficult final match against England’s formidable national team, the Lionesses. But Rubiales made sure that she could not prevail over the gendered hierarchy, could not forget, even at her moment of accomplishment, that she was still vulnerable to the likes of him.“I did not like it,” Hermoso later said of the kiss, on Instagram. The kiss, she said, was “an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part”.The Spanish soccer federation initially backed Rubiales and threatened to sue Hermoso and the other players who complained; Hermoso alleged that she had faced pressure from soccer officials to downplay Rubiales’ behavior. “No person, in any work, sports, or social setting, should be a victim of these types of nonconsensual behaviors,” she said in a statement.Rubiales claimed that the kiss was consensual, though he has backtracked and issued a tepid apology, saying in a video statement, “Surely I was wrong, I have to admit. It was without bad faith at a time of maximum effusiveness.” For his part, he continued his celebrations at the medal ceremony in an incident in which he stood next to the Spanish queen and her 16-year-old daughter, and grabbed his crotch.The incident has sparked outrage in Spain and across the soccer-loving world, in part because no one was exactly surprised. Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup was an unlikely surprise precisely because of the rampant sexism that has long characterized the Spanish soccer authority and the women’s national team leadership.Before the tournament, the Spanish team was facing long odds, because a dozen of their best players were on strike – to protest against sexism. The Spanish team’s two most recent coaches, Ignacio Quereda and Jorge Vilda, both faced accusations of sexist, controlling and aggressive behavior. The striking players have also complained, like the US women’s national team, of receiving lower pay and inferior facilities compared with their male counterparts.In 2020, Rubiales stood trial for allegedly assaulting a female architect who was working on his home. According to the architect, Rubiales inflicted injuries to her ribs and wrist that took nearly a year to heal. A court found Rubiales not guilty, and the incident did not lead to Rubiales’ ouster from Spanish soccer.Rubiales’ behavior illustrates something essential to the phenomenon of sexual harassment: how frequently it is a matter of contradicting women’s talents and achievement, and knocking them downNor did the publications of audio recordings in which Rubiales can be heard allegedly arranging for specific Spanish teams to gain entrance to tournaments. And nor did accusations that Rubiales was embezzling soccer federation funds and spending them on private parties and personal travel. Rubiales, who has not been convicted of any corruption charges, has refused to step down following each of these successive scandals and has always denied wrongdoing. His assault on Hermoso is no exception.For all the impunity he seems to enjoy at the head of Spanish soccer, Rubiales never had the athletic talent that Hermoso hasFor all of the gruesome machismo of the kissing incident, Rubiales’ behavior illustrates something essential to the phenomenon of sexual harassment: how frequently it is a matter of contradicting women’s talents and achievement, and knocking them down.For all the impunity he seems to enjoy at the head of Spanish soccer, Rubiales never had the athletic talent that Hermoso has. He had a brief and unremarkable early career as a defender before abruptly ending his time on the field to join the management side of the soccer business. He never played for clubs of the prestige that Hermoso plays for; he never developed, as she has, a signature style of play; he never played on a national team or in a World Cup; he never scored goals in anything like the numbers she does.Hermoso is more talented than he is, and she is also younger, by 13 years. She is better than him, and she is the future. Faced with her achievement, her talent, her youth, perhaps Rubiales felt his own pathetic, boorish inadequacy reflected back on him. He reached for the most ready source of power that he could wield against her: his sex.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/sep/03/jenni-hermoso-luis-rubiales-male-chauvinism The unwanted Spanish soccer kiss is textbook male chauvinism. Don’t excuse it | Moira Donegan

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