Spain were one of the favorites to win the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup — and they did just that. Olga Carmona was the hero for the La Roja in a 1-0 victory over England in the championship, capturing their first senior World Cup title.
That success comes after Spain won the 2022 U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in India and the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Furthermore, Spain is now the second nation to win both the women’s and men’s World Cups, with Germany being the first.
Despite adding another trophy to the case in Spain, there has been plenty to discuss off the pitch that can overshadow the winning tournament Spain had.
Of course, throughout the World Cup, there was the persistent mention of tensions between the players and their federation, along with Jorge Vilda, the manager.
The Equalizer writer Fernando Alcalá-Zamora Ruiz recently wrote about the tensions, which you can read below. However, since the publication of Fernando’s article, a lot more has happened.
After Spain won the World Cup, another Equalizer reporter, Harjeet Johal, spoke to players about the victory. Players, though, didn’t want to talk about the issues around Vilda,
“I’m sorry, but I’m not talking about this issue in this tournament,” Aitana Bonmati said to reporters. “I want to focus on this tournament. It’s not fair that we’re talking about this every moment.”
When players were given their medals during the trophy presentation, each player had their name cheered by Spanish supporters. However, when Vilda made his way to the stage, there were hardly any cheers.
Going back to the medal ceremony, Vilda’s booing was an afterthought after what happened with Jenni Hermoso. The Spanish striker — who plays her club soccer for Pachuca in Liga MX Femenil — was given her medal, shook hands with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and hugged Spanish Queen Letizia. However, when she made her way to Spanish Federation president Luis Rubiales, Hermoso was greeted with an unwanted and non-consensual kiss on the lips.
During a live-stream on Instagram, Hermoso stated that she did not like the kiss. However, on Monday, according to ESPN and Spanish news agency EFE, Hermoso stated that the kiss was “no big deal” and was in the “emotion of the moment.”
“It was a mutual, totally spontaneous gesture because of the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” Hermoso said to EFE, via ESPN. “The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship. … It was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”
Monday evening, Rubiales responded, via a video. “I made a mistake, for sure. I have to accept it. In a moment of such emotion, without any bad intention or bad faith, what happened, happened, in a very spontaneous way. [There was] no bad faith from either side. Here we saw it as something natural and normal. But on the outside it has caused a stir, because people have felt hurt by it, so I have to apologize; there’s no alternative. I have to learn from this and understand that a president of an institution as important as the federation — above all in ceremonies and that kind of thing — should be more careful.
“There are also some things which I said where, within this context, I said it seemed like idiocy. On the inside, nobody had seen it as important, but on the outside they had. So I want to apologize to those people. I’m sure they’ll have their reasons. I’m also saddened, because this is the biggest success in our history in women’s football, the second World Cup that we’ve won, and this has affected the celebration.
“We have to give the merit to these women and the team led by Jorge Vilda, we have to celebrate it in style.”
According to Spanish media Revelo, Rubiales attempted to get Hermoso to be part of his apology video. However, the 33-year-old dismissed the invitation. On Tuesday, Spanish captain Irene Paredes called the unwanted kiss an “unfortunate gesture.” Meanwhile, Spanish acting president, Pedro Sánchez, said that the gesture was “unacceptable.”
“What we saw was an unacceptable gesture. Apologies have not been enough. They are not suitable. mr. Rubiales has to keep taking steps,” Sánchez said in a press conference. However, Sánchez mentioned that the government cannot remove Rubiales as president of the Spanish Federation.