That was USWNT’s Alex Morgan’s reaction to Luis Rubiales’ remarkable speech on Friday, in which the head of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) insisted he would not resign despite criticism of his behaviour at and after his country’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final last Sunday.

And she was not alone in feeling that way.

In his appearance at the RFEF’s Extraordinary General Assembly today, Rubiales attacked what he called “false feminism”, described himself as the victim of a “social assassination”, claimed he had given Spain player Jennifer Hermoso a “consensual peck” on the lips and said he had grabbed his crotch in celebration in recognition of head coach Jorge Vilda.

His remarks prompted 81 Spanish players, including all of the World Cup-winning squad, to sign a statement saying they would not play for the country again — but the anger was not just limited to Rubiales’ home country.

“I stand by @Jennihermoso and the Spanish players,” Morgan added in a post on Twitter. “Winning a World Cup should be one of the best moments in these players’ lives but instead it’s overshadowed by assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation.”

Alex Morgan (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

There was condemnation from other women’s stars from across the globe.

England’s Lionesses issued a joint statement, posted by several players including Fran Kirby, Leah Williamson, Georgia Stanway and Millie Bright, on their individual Twitter accounts. The statement took aim at Rubiales’ “unacceptable actions” and called the RFEF a “sexist and patriarchal organisation”.


— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) August 25, 2023

Norway striker Ada Hegerberg and Canada forward Janine Beckie also expressed their fury, while past and present male players including Iker Casillas, David de Gea and Hector Bellerin also spoke out. Some Spanish clubs and politicians called for Rubiales to be removed.

This is the @UEFA Vice-President, re-elected in the executive committee earlier this year, dropping that horrendous speech. If you don’t see the issue, you are part of it. My thoughts with the players who should be celebrating, and with the ones who decided to stay home. Enough.

— Ada S Hegerberg (@AdaStolsmo) August 25, 2023

“Total embarrassment,” said Casillas, who won the men’s World Cup with Spain in 2010. “We should have been talking for these past five days about our girls! About the happiness they gave us all! Of having a title that we didn’t have in women’s football but…”

His sentiments were echoed by De Gea, another former Spain No 1. “My ears are bleeding,” he wrote, accompanied by a circus emoji and two theatre masks.

“It is a genuine embarrassment what is happening,” Real Betis right-back Bellerin said on Instagram. “To represent our country with that vulgarity, distort statements from the victim and on top of that have the courage to blame her, going on to victimise himself for having committed an abuse, are things which someone cannot go unpunished for.”


Luis Rubiales kisses Jennifer Hermoso (Noemi Llamas/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Bellerin’s Betis team-mate, the two-cap Spain international striker Borja Iglesias, said he would not play again for the national team until “things change and these types of acts don’t go unpunished”.

“I’m sad and disappointed,” he said. “As a footballer and as a person, I don’t feel represented by what is happening today at Las Rozas (the RFEF headquarters). I think it’s lamentable that they keep pressuring and putting the focus on a colleague.”

Spain’s Women’s World Cup winners, led by two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, soon voiced their disapproval at Rubiales, too. “This is unacceptable. It’s finished,” Putellas wrote, with many of her team-mates using similar wording. “With you team-mate @Jennihermoso”

Alexia Putellas (Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

Barcelona men’s captain Sergi Roberto shared that post with the message “We’re with you!” in Catalan and Spanish.

Spain players including Aitana Bonmati, goalkeeper Cata Coll and Irene Paredes also expressed their anger.

“There are limits which cannot be crossed and this we cannot tolerate,” said Bonmati, who earlier on Friday was nominated for the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award. “We’re with you team-mate.”

“The whole world saw what happened,” Paredes said. “The victim is you. We’re with you friend.”

Those world champions were joined by former Spain team-mates including Patri Guijarro, Sandra Panos and Mapi Leon, all of whom were among the 15 players who stepped down from the national team over concerns within the set-up last September and who did not return for the World Cup.

“It did not take much time to see that what was demanded a few months ago wasn’t a simple tantrum,” Leon said. “The images speak for themselves, and I think there’s not much more to add. It’s unacceptable. For all women, with you @Jennihermoso.”

Support soon arrived from outside Spain.

“The game, the Spanish players deserve more, no players should have to endure this,” said England’s Beth Mead. “It’s unacceptable, and also laughable that these men still are allowed so much power. @Jennihermoso we are all with you.”

Beckie, who is a representative for the Canadian Soccer Players Association, added: “No one, no player should EVER have to experience the behaviour that we’ve seen from so-called leaders in the Spanish federation & the continued actions suggesting this behaviour is ‘normal’. Unacceptable.”

Janine Beckie (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

“Like the great great (Gianni) Infantino once said: Women pick the right fights!” Dutch defender Merel van Dongen added, referring to a speech this month in which the FIFA president said women should “pick the right battles” in the fight for equality.

“Oooohh how the Spanish women are picking this fight. Proud to see how women, men, media and politics in Spain finally unite to change something that hasn’t been right for years. Se acabo (“It’s finished” in Spanish). It’s time for justice.”

Spain’s second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz and equality minister Irene Montero were also outspoken in their criticisms.

“What we have seen today in the federation’s assembly is unacceptable,” Diaz said. “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for misogynistic acts is over. Rubiales can’t stay in charge.”

Montero added: “Rubiales is looking for impunity. Faced with that, the prosecutors’ office acts and the CSD (Spain’s high sports council) acts to protect the player, to say no to misogyny and to guarantee the right to sexual freedom. Now, more than ever, Jenni Hermoso, you are not alone.”

There were varying responses from Spanish clubs. Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Espanyol all called for Rubiales to be removed from his post, while Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves criticised his behaviour but stopped short of calling for his departure.

Real Madrid published a statement in which it expressed support for CSD announcing it intended to suspend Rubiales. The airline company Iberia, which sponsors the Spanish national teams, published a statement in which it said it supported “the appropriate and relevant measures that need to be taken to preserve the rights and dignity of male and female athletes” but did not refer to Rubiales by name.

But Spain keeper Misa Rodriguez highlighted how the issues go beyond the head of Spain’s football federation.

“And not to mention all those people who applauded,” she posted in response to her initial message of support for Hermoso, along with two sick emojis, referring to those who had shown Rubiales their support after his speech.



Spain won the Women’s World Cup - but Luis Rubiales has made me ashamed to be Spanish

(Top photo: Getty Images)