Jenni Hermoso says she did not consent to be kissed by Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales – as 81 players confirm they will not play for Spain’s women’s team until he is removed from his post.
Rubiales has refused to resign after kissing forward Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win over England in Sydney.
The Spanish government started legal proceedings seeking to suspend the 46-year-old, while Fifa has also launched disciplinary proceedings.
Rubiales had been widely expected to resign at an extraordinary general assembly called by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), but instead said, “I don’t deserve this manhunt.”
He added: “Jenni was the one who lifted me up. I told her to ‘forget about the penalty [that Mary Earps saved]’ and I said to her ‘a little peck?’ and she said ‘OK’.
“It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key. A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here?”
Pachuca player Hermoso released a long statement on social media, saying: “I want to make clear that at no time did the conversation to which Mr Luis Rubiales refers to in his address take place and, above all, was his kiss ever consensual.”
She added his claims were “categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he has generated”.
“I feel the need to report this incident because I believe no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours. I felt vulnerable and a victim of impulsive-driven, sexist, out-of-place act, without any consent on my part,” she continued.
“Quite simply, I was not respected.”
She added that she was put “under continuous pressure” to help with a “statement that could justify” Rubiales’ actions – and so were her family, friends and team-mates.
“These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing. This incident is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television also comes with attitudes like the one we saw this morning [Friday] and have been part of our team’s daily life for years,” she added.
A statement from England’s Lionesses, who lost to Spain in the final, said the incident was “unacceptable.”
It added: “The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated, and people shouldn’t take any convincing to take action against any form of harassment.