After being forcibly kissed by Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales, World Cup star Jenni Hermoso says the inappropriate act should not go unpunished.
After days of controversy, Jenni Hermoso has finally broken her silence.
The World Cup star has spoken out about the "unacceptable" kiss she received from Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation, during the medal ceremony at the Women's World Cup in Australia.
Hermoso has issued an official statement through her union, FUTPRO, saying that Rubiale’s inappropriate act should not go unpunished.
She also stated that the FUTPRO players' union and her agent would “defend my interests and speak on my behalf.”
The union is working “so that acts like the ones we witnessed don’t go unpunished, are sanctioned, and that pertinent measures are adopted to protect the soccer players against actions that are unacceptable,” she said.
Hermoso, a 33-year-old striker and key player for Spain, said of the kiss – which was caught on video that's been shared widely across social media – that "I didn't like it, but what could I do".
In the immediate uproar over the kiss, the federation issued a statement on Hermoso's behalf in which she played down the incident. Later, a local media report on the sports website Relevo.com claimed that the federation faked her statement.
The federation denied this to Euronews.
Relevo.com also reported that Rubiales asked Hermoso to appear in the video in which he apologises for kissing her, but she refused. It said Captain Ivana Andrés was also asked to participate, but also refused.
According to Relevo, people travelling back to Madrid with the Spanish delegation also saw coach Jorge Vilda trying to persuade Hermoso's family to let her appear in the video.
As far as Spain's High Council for Sport is concerned, Rubiales' behaviour has damaged the country's image, just as it is trying to win a joint bid to host the men's World Cup in 2030
"(Hermoso) can decide to speak out or not, and whatever she does, she will be doing the right thing, because above all we cannot put the responsibility for this on her," said Víctor Francos, Spain's secretary of state for sport and president of the Spanish High Council for Sport.
Rubiales is in a tightening corner, and pressure is mounting for his resignation. He has called an emergency meeting of the Spanish Football Federation's general assembly for Friday, which is expected to back him.
The federation has launched an internal investigation into whether Rubiales broke the federation's protocol against sexism. The protocol makes "forced kissing" a punishable offence.
Spain's High Sports Council said it had asked the federation to present the results of its investigation by Monday.