Foul Play: Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales Should Resign Over Controversial Kiss

Photos: YouTube Screenshots\Wikimedia Commons

The recent FIFA Women’s World Cup won by Spain was a well-deserved victory, as the footballers showed that they were a force to be reckoned with in their dominance of the game, their watertight defense, and the tiki taka style of play that totally mesmerized their opponents. And of course, they won. But where such victory should have been celebrated with drums, cymbals, maracas, and even a one-day national holiday, it is currently awash with controversy following the lusty kiss planted on the lips of Jenni Hermoso – one of the footballers – by Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish Football Federation.

This singular act has threatened the stratospheric elevation of the reigning world champions, and brought to the fore, the age-long issue of gender justice, feminine rights, and the discrimination against women.

Women, the world over, have been yearning for the resignation of Rubiales, whose act they had labelled “sexist” and even “chauvinistic.” Let’s critically construe why a man of such stature would choose to do what he did without the girl’s consent and in a public arena, filled to the brim with spectators. Mr. Rubiales has argued time and again, that he sees nothing wrong or immoral in the kiss and that he had done so in the “heat of the moment.”

But one pertinent question persists: could he have kissed the footballer in the mouth if the footballer had been a man? I don’t really think so.

More so, Rubiales, as the renowned President of the Spanish Football Federation, has attended and presided over several sporting events where men were the participants. He had also presented trophies to the victors and comforted the losers. But never have we seen him stick out his tongue to kiss a male. In fairness to those supporting Jenni, who is today, branded, a “hapless victim,” I think Mr Rubiales needs some soul-searching.

To those who watched the match (and I did), you may have noticed the lewd manner in which Mr. Rubiales grabbed his crotch following the blast of the final whistle, as if imitating the Argentinian male world cup winning goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez, who had his Golden Glove award placed on his crutch in a sexually offensive manner. While Mr Rubiales disgraceful act may be tolerated by adults, such lewd behavior could easily have affected the psyches of the numerous children who were amongst the spectators that evening.

To put this succinctly, therefore, it is high time people knew that mannerisms tolerated in Spain, Italy or Latin American countries may utterly shock or offend the sensibilities of those from other parts of the world and vice versa. The guideline is this: comport yourselves and maintain a sense of decorum when outside your local terrains.

Should Mr Rubiales resign?

I think he should. That’s the honorable thing he should do if he has even a scintilla of conscience. He should do so for the sake of justice and equity. He should do so for fair play. It is morally reprehensible for him to now lay the blame on Jenni for ‘consenting’ to the controversial kiss.

He has also resorted to attending a series of hurriedly-organized conferences and parties, drumming it to the people that “No voy a renunciar!” (“I won’t resign”) and swaying to the standing ovation of a cross-section of the attendees, many of whom have been labelled “sexist and misogynistic.”

Unfortunately, this grandstanding will lead Mr. Rubiales nowhere. Rather, it would have a deleterious effect on his reputation or whatever shred remained therefrom.

It cannot be gainsaid that the recently-concluded Female World Cup also brought to our attention how sexism and discrimination has threatened female football, and mention must be made of the Jamaican team, currently being bankrolled by Cedella Marley, one of late Bob Marley’s daughters. Is the Jamaican State not rich enough to support her female team?

Nigeria’s Super Falcons, have been owed salaries for over three years and, in the just-concluded event, were crammed six in a hotel room meant for two due to “lack of funds.”

The Zambian team has not been paid for two years not to mention the British Women’s team, currently fighting to be paid as their male counterparts.

There is discrimination in other fields and the diminution of women’s dignity the world over, so much so that it is our responsibility to strive for a world where women’s rights are pursued with vigor and gender justice, enshrined into our statutes books.

It is no easy ride for Rubiales who currently has the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. Just a few days ago, his own uncle and closest aide: Signor Juan Rubiales Lopez, described him as one “obsessed with power, money and women,” advising he “needs re-education in his relationship with women.”

Would this new revelation puncture Rubiales’ pomposity and make him see reason? Will he resign or step aside for a thorough probe to be carried out on his position and person?

The next few weeks will tell.

Martins Agbonlahor is a trained lawyer, journalist and author. He resides in Greater Manchester, The United Kingdom.    

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