Spanish Women’s World Cup winning midfielder Jenni Hermoso said she did not consent to being kissed by the country’s federation chief Luis Rubiales, after he refused to resign Friday following worldwide outcry over the incident.
In a statement released by the women players’ union Futpro, Hermoso and 80 other players said they would not accept an international call-up “if the current leadership continues” at the Spanish football federation.
Rubiales, 46, said in a defiant speech at an emergency RFEF meeting that his kiss on Hermoso’s lips was “mutual, euphoric and consensual” and that she had said “OK” when he asked her if he could give her “a peck”.
He also asserted that “she was the one who lifted me in her arms and brought me close to her body”.
However, Hermoso hit back strongly against his claims later Friday.
“I want to clarify that at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me and in no case did I seek to lift up the president,” Hermoso said in the Futpro statement.
“I do not tolerate my word being questioned and much less that they invent words that I did not say.”
Futpro said in the statement that every player signing it, which included the 23 World Cup winners, were taking a stand.
“We want to finish this statement asking for real structural changes, that help the national team to keep growing, to be able to transfer this great success to later generations,” it read.
“It fills us with sadness that such an unacceptable event is succeeding in tarnishing the greatest sporting success of Spanish women’s football.
“After all that happened during the medal ceremony at the Women’s World Cup, we wish to declare that all the players signing this document will not return to a national team squad if the current leadership continues.”
Before the World Cup, 15 players had taken a similar stance against the federation but many relented and three were part of the team’s triumph in Australia and New Zealand.
Many players, including double Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, had written messages of support for Hermoso on social media, some including the phrase “it’s over” — potentially referring to Rubiales’ leadership of Spanish football.