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Spanish football federation accused of faking Jenni Hermoso's statement on 'unacceptable' kiss

President of Spain's soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, left, stands next to Spain Head Coach Jorge Vilda after their World Cup victory at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid.
President of Spain's soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, left, stands next to Spain Head Coach Jorge Vilda after their World Cup victory at La Moncloa Palace in Madrid. Copyright Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Laura Llach
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According to the sports media Relevo.com, the statements released by the Spanish Football Federation after the 'unacceptable' kiss were not made by Jenni Hermoso as they had led people to believe.

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The Spanish Football Federation has been accused of "faking" comments by World Cup star Jenni Hermoso, where it appeared that she downplayed a controversial kiss from the federation's president. 

In the middle of the medal ceremony for the newly crowned world champions on Sunday night in Australia, Luis Rubiales grabbed Hermoso's head and planted a kiss on her lips.

A few minutes later, in a live stream, Hermoso said that she "did not like it" and asked "but what can I do?”

Rubiales, meanwhile, said it was "a minor show of affection" and called "idiots" those outraged by his behaviour.

In an attempt to play down the incident, the Spanish Football Federation issued a statement, seemingly quoting Hermoso, and later released a video of Rubiales' apology.

But according to the Spanish sports media website Relevo.com, the statements given by the federation to news agencies like AFP and EFE are false, and they say the words didn't come from Hermoso. 

Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
President of Spain's soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, top right, stands with Spain's Women's World Cup soccer team after their World Cup victory.Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

The released text said: "(The kiss) was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup. The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour towards all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude".

"We can't think any more about a gesture of friendship and gratitude, we won a World Cup and we're not going to deviate from what's important," she purportedly added.

Those words were written by the Spanish Federation's communications department without consulting the player herself, Relevo claims. 

When contacted, the Football Federation told Euronews that the information published is not true. Their legal department is looking into the allegations made in the article, but no public statement will be made.

Less than 24 hours after opening an "internal proceeding" into "integrity issues" against Rubiales, the federation has called an extraordinary general assembly for this Friday, after which it will make a statement.

Rubiales' future is up in the air as he faces the most complicated moment of his career.

The Supreme Sports Council (CSD) could refer the matter to Spain's Sports Administrative Tribunal if the Spanish Federation fails to act.

"I imagine that the relevant people will talk to the two parties involved and draw up a report," Victor Francos, Spain's secretary of state for sport and president of the CSD, told Spanish media.

"I have personally told the federation that this report must be transparent and urgent. Because if it is not, we are obviously obliged to take the appropriate additional measures," he added.

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What happened on the Sydney-Madrid flight?

Although Relevo.com does not name its sources, the media had access to what happened in the hours leading up to the big celebration in Madrid.

More than 300 people were on the flight home with the Spanish national team players. Among them were the players' families, federation officials, staff, representatives of sports institutions, etc.

According to Spanish media, once on the plane - and before the party began - Rubiales approached Jenni Hermoso and asked her to record a video with him apologising and explaining what had happened. This video would be later posted on social media.

He said his job was on the line and that he needed her help, but Hermoso refused.

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Relevo.com reported that both Rubiales and Spain coach Jorge Vilda had spoken to the player and her family in an attempt to resolve the crisis. The incident tarnished the players' victory and they wanted to put an end to the controversy.

But Rubiales ended up recording the video apologising on his own when the plane landed in Doha for a stopover.

"Probably I made a mistake. I have to admit it, because it was a moment of maximum euphoria (...) We saw it as natural, there was no bad intention by either party," the football chief said. 

Despite these efforts, the controversy continues.

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A victory marred by controversy

Many politicians have spoken out about the incident, including Spanish acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who said the gesture was "unacceptable".

"I also think that the apologies made by Mr Rubiales are insufficient. I even think they are inappropriate and that he should go further," he added.

The acting minister of equality, Irene Montero, accused Rubiales on social media of sexual violence.

Not everyone seems to agree, Jenni Hermoso's mother also spoke to the media when asked about Rubiales' behaviour: "You have to look at the fact that they are world champions, the rest is unimportant," she said.

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After this statement, the family no longer wanted to talk about it.

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