Jenni Hermoso has accused the Spanish Football Federation of a “manipulative, hostile and controlling culture” as the World Cup-winning squad refused to play while president Luis Rubiales remains in post.
A total of 81 players signed a letter stating they will not accept national team call-ups while Rubiales refuses to resign after kissing Hermoso – who has stressed she did not consent – following the country’s Women’s World Cup final win over England.
He claimed it was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual” but Hermoso, who previously suggested comments playing down the incident attributed to her by the federation were false, has hit back with an attack on the organisation as a whole.
“I have to state that I have been under continuous pressure to come up with a statement that could justify the act of Mr. Luis Rubiales,” she said in a statement on Twitter.
“Not only that, but in different ways and through different people, the RFEF has pressured those around me (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) to give testimony that had little or nothing to do with my feelings.
“It is not up to me to evaluate communication and integrity practices, but I am sure that as the world champion national team we do not deserve such a manipulative, hostile and controlling culture.
“This type of incident joins a long list of situations that we players have been denouncing in recent years, so this event, in which I have been involved, is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back and what everyone has been able to see.
“But attitudes like this have been part of the day-to-day life of our team for years.
“For all these reasons, I want to reinforce the position I took from the beginning, considering that I do not have to support the person who has committed this action against my will, without respecting me, at a historic moment for me and for women’s sport.”
Hermoso said the incident had made her feel “vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part”, adding: “I have ZERO TOLERANCE for these behaviours.”
The Spanish government will push for the suspension of Rubiales but the players – including all members of the victorious squad – have taken matters into their own hands by effectively going on strike while he remains in position.
A joint statement released by players’ union Futpro said they “want to express their firm and resounding condemnation of behaviours that have violated the dignity of women”.
“After everything that happened during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony, we want to state that all the players who sign this letter will not return to a call for the national team if the current leaders continue,” it read.
Spain’s next scheduled fixture is on September 22 against Sweden.
On Thursday FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales, who also grabbed his crotch in celebration despite being just metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter in the stadium VIP area.
Rubiales apologised for his behaviour in the VIP area but insisted in his speech on Friday he had been the target of a “social assassination” and repeatedly and emphatically stated “I will not resign”, words that drew applause from the gathered delegates at an extraordinary general assembly of the Spanish federation.
World players’ union FIFPRO said it had written to UEFA urging it to open disciplinary proceedings.
“Any lack of action by authorities in addressing the conduct of Mr Rubiales would send an entirely unacceptable and damaging message to the football industry and wider society,” it said in a statement.
European football’s governing body has yet to issue any comment on the Rubiales case.
The players, however, have escalated things themselves.
“From our union we want to emphasize that no woman should feel the need to respond to the forceful images that everyone has seen and of course, they should not be involved in non-consensual attitudes,” they added in their statement.
“The players of the Spanish Soccer Team, current world champions, expect forceful answers from the public powers so that actions such as those contained do not go unpunished.
“We want to end this statement by asking for real structural changes that help the national team to continue growing, in order to transfer this great success to later generations.
“It fills us with sadness that such an unacceptable event is managing to tarnish the greatest sporting success of Spanish women’s football.”