The Spanish FA president and national team manager have come under heavy scrutiny following inappropriate behaviour amid the women’s national team’s World Cup success - while Gianni Infantino hardly covered himself in glory either

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World Cup Diary as England lose 1-0 against Spain in the final

Perhaps it’s a good thing.

That in the comfortable embrace of Spain’s Women’s World Cup triumph over England on Sunday, two men let down their guard just long enough to reveal to the world their true character. Of course, this is a romantic viewpoint, one that is predicated on action being taken by the Spanish FA (RFEF).

Then again, for the last year, no action has been taken. Not when 15 players protested the employment of manager Jorge Vilda and not when a handful of those players rebuffed the World Cup entirely to stand by those principles.

So when RFEF president Luis Rubiales lifted Spanish midfielder Jennifer Hermoso into the air and kissed her during Sunday’s trophy presentation, the world was stunned. Moreover, when the 46-year-old was caught on camera beside the Spanish royal family grabbing his groin at the full-time whistle. Again, when a marriage proposal was offered to Hermoso in the sanctity of the national team’s locker room.

Should there have been shock? It can be argued no. That a federation entrenched in years-long controversy amid whirring allegations of maltreatment and inappropriate behaviour from its head coach towards its female players also happens to have a president of similar ilk is anything but far-fetched.

The RFEF seemed to promise to double down on its stance of taking no action when it tweeted proudly after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England “ VILDA IN ” from the official account, the Twitter equivalent to giving the missing Spanish stars, like Mapi Leon, Patricia Guijarro and Sandra Paños, the proverbial middle finger.

Now, however, the RFEF’s stance is shaking, embodied by their call for an Extraordinary General Assembly next Friday to discuss “the latest events that occurred during the award ceremony of the Women’s World Cup.”

Jenni Hermoso was kissed on her lips by Spain FA president Luis Rubiales Jenni Hermoso was kissed on her lips by Spain FA president Luis Rubiales (



It would be remiss to consider that such actions haven’t been forced. Spain’s deputy minister is calling for Rubiales’ immediate removal. Getafe president Angel Torres dubbed the actions “deplorable”. USA star Megan Rapinoe declared them mere extensions of the federation’s “deep level of misogyny and sexism”.

On Tuesday, Spain’s acting prime minister, in the midst of praising the new world champions, was forced to take time out of his speech to remind the president of the Spanish FA that planting an unsolicited kiss on a female’s lips is “inappropriate”, a sentiment so basic and juvenile, it risks making the entire saga even more depressing.

And it is depressing, for a myriad of reasons.

That public backlash and censure from the national government rather than direct appeals from 15 players over a year ago has finally incited the RFEF to engage in some long-required introspection, is one of them. A pretty big one at that.

That FIFA president Gianni “open doors” Infantino and the rest of football’s governing body have remained conspicuously tight-lipped is another. It’s particularly notable given Infantino’s unwavering penchant for long-winded and bombastic speech-making was once more employed just a few days ago in the warm glow of the Women’s World Cup’s unprecedented, unsullied success.

The most saliently depressing aspect, though, is that a Women’s World Cup rightfully lauded as one of unlimited and powerful watershed moments – a first Women’s World Cup featuring an historic 32 teams, one that saw the reigning world champions dumped out in the knockout stages, established hegemonies upended, audience records shattered, a transgender footballer compete, a first-ever hijab worn and a new champion crowned as the potential breadth and scope of the global game took centre stage – has eventually come to be defined by the inappropriate actions of two men.

There are those who will consider such a viewpoint selfish, even a vapid tantrum bemoaning the lack of bandwidth and column margins dedicated to Aitana Bonmati’s midfield splendour, or the epochal force of goalkeeping that is Mary Earps.

But if this summer’s Women’s World Cup had a catchphrase, it would be “in spite of”.

As in in spite of Jamaica being forced to crowdfund their entire summer’s campaign, the Caribbean nation reached a first-ever Round of 16, rendering both Brazil and France goalless in the process.

Or in spite of failed bonus payments, administrative interferences and boycotts, Nigeria and South Africa grew the number of African nations in the knockout stages to three for the first time in history.

Or in spite of sexual allegations against head coach Bruce Mwape, Zambia recorded their first-ever Women’s World Cup victory over Costa Rica.

Or in spite of a toxic and fractured team environment, Spain claimed a first-ever World Cup.

Or in spite of the most riveting, competitive and groundbreaking tournament in Women’s World Cup history, it is the actions of three men that have pilfered centre stage instead.