BARCELONA, Spain –
Less than a week after winning the Women’s World Cup, Spain’s national team players announced Friday that they will not play any more games unless the president of the country’s soccer federation steps down for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after their victory.
Luis Rubiales, who was also chastised for grabbing his crotch after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday, has remained defiant despite immense pressure to resign. The kiss marred the title celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, and criticism has steadily mounted.
Hermoso issued a statement Friday strongly rebuking Rubiales’ characterization of the kiss as consensual, while the 46-year-old federation president cast himself as the victim at an emergency meeting of the federation in Madrid.
“I won’t resign,” he declared four times in quick succession, to applause from the overwhelmingly male audience.
Several Spanish news media outlets reported on Thursday that Rubiales would step down. Instead, he said on Friday that he is the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists.”
While Rubiales held his ground, federation vice president Rafael del Amo, who had been in charge of women’s soccer, announced that he was resigning, followed by at least two other federation members. Del Amo had urged Rubiales to also resign.
Among those applauding Rubiales were women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda and men’s national team coach Luis de la Fuente. Until Friday’s assembly, he had received no public support in Spain, with political parties from both the left and the right speaking out against him.
In his speech to the assembly, Rubiales said Hermoso “lifted me up” in a celebratory gesture and he asked her for “a little kiss?” and she “said yes.”
“The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters,” Rubiales said.
The televised broadcast of the medals ceremony didn’t show the first moments when Rubiales congratulated Hermoso. But it does show that his feet were on the ground before he held her face and kissed her.
Hermoso contradicted Rubiales’ version in two statements, one issued through her FUTRPO players union and a second published on social media.
She said that she did not consent to the kiss or try to pick up the president, and that there was no conversation like the one described by Rubiales.
“I won’t tolerate anyone doubting my word and even less someone putting words in my mouth,” she said.
In a second statement, Hermoso said the kiss “left me in a state of shock.”
“I believe that no person in any workplace should be the victim of this type of nonconsensual behavior,” she added.
Hermoso also accused the federation of pressuring her and her family to speak out in Rubiales’ defense. The federation denied this in response to a question from The Associated Press.
The FUTPRO statement signed by Hermoso, her 22 teammates, and 58 other Spanish players said they would no longer play for Spain “if the present leadership remains in charge.”
Rubiales said he would defend his honor in court against politicians, including two ministers, who called his kiss an act of sexual violence. One of them was acting Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz, who urged the government to take “urgent measures.”
“Impunity for macho actions is over,” Diaz said. “Rubiales cannot continue in office.”
Alexia Putellas, Hermoso’s teammate and a two-time Ballon d’Or winner as the best player in the world, posted a message of support on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“This is unacceptable,” the Barcelona player wrote. “I’m with you, my teammate, Jenni Hermoso.”
Other teammates quickly followed.
The president of Spain’s women’s league, Beatriz Alvarez, told Spanish state broadcaster RTVE that she was not surprised because Rubiales’ “ego is above his dignity.”
“What surprises and scandalizes me are his words,” Alvarez said. “Every time he speaks he shows what kind of person he really is.”
Spain’s government planned to file a lawsuit Friday alleging that Rubiales violated the country’s sports laws, according to Victor Francos, secretary of state for sports and head of Spain’s Higher Council for Sports. If Spain’s Administrative Court for Sports agrees to hear the suit, the council will suspend Rubiales temporarily pending the court’s ruling, Francos said.
If found guilty by the court for committing sexist acts, Rubiales could be ruled unfit to hold office. Francos said he would ask the court to move its regular Thursday meeting up to Monday.
Around 100 people, mostly women, gathered Friday night in front of the Spanish soccer federation’s headquarters in Madrid to call for Rubiales’ resignation, many waving red cards used by soccer referees to expel players from games.
Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso holds the trophy as they celebrate on stage their Women’s World Cup victory in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. Spain beat England in Sydney to win the Women’s World Cup soccer final. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Spanish soccer club Barcelona, which provided nine players for Spain’s team, said Rubiales’ behavior “was completely inappropriate.” Real Madrid said it supported the decision by the government to try to suspend Rubiales. Sevilla called for his resignation. Athletic Bilbao said it was renouncing its seat on the federation’s board and backed the government’s decisions. Osasuna slammed Rubiales and his supporters in the assembly, calling him “rude and sexist.” Espanyol, Valencia, and Celta Vigo also issued statements against Rubiales, as did Spanish league president Javier Tebas.
FIFA, the governing body of soccer, opened a disciplinary case against Rubiales on Thursday. The FIFA disciplinary committee will decide whether Rubiales violated its code relating to “the basic rules of decent conduct” or behaved “in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”
Disciplinary judges can impose sanctions on individuals ranging from warnings and fines to suspensions from the sport. FIFA gave no timetable for the ruling.
The Netherlands-based FIFPRO player’s union, which had already demanded action against Rubiales, reiterated its position after his assembly speech.
The only relevant institution to remain silent has been European soccer body UEFA, for which Rubiales is a vice president. FIFPRO urged UEFA to open its own disciplinary case.
Rubiales, who led the Spanish players union for eight years before taking over as federation president in 2018, is currently heading the UEFA-backed bid to host the men’s World Cup in 2030. Spain is bidding with neighboring Portugal and Morocco, and also possibly Ukraine.
Rubiales made 339,000 euros ($365,000) in 2021 after taxes, for presiding over the federation with a budget of 382 million euros ($412 million). The federation runs Spain’s men’s and women’s national soccer teams and its semi-professional and amateur soccer leagues. It also organizes the referees for La Liga. The government maintains some oversight of the entity but it cannot name or remove its executives.
Shortly before the kiss, Rubiales grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture, with Queen Letizia of Spain and 16-year old Princess Sofia standing nearby.
He offered an apology for that, saying it was in a moment of “euphoria” and directed toward Vilda on the field.
The first members of the elite in Spanish men’s soccer spoke out against Rubiales on Thursday, when it looked like he was bowing out. Their words of reproach continued to trickle in after Rubiales’ diatribe on Friday.
“What an embarrassment,” former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas said on X. “We should have spent the last five days talking about our women players, about the joy they gave us all! About how proud we are that they gave us a title that we didn’t have in women’s soccer, instead ΓÇª”
Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias, who has occasionally been called up for Spain’s national team, said he would not play for his country again “until things change.”
Garnacho on target as United beats Crystal Palace in League Cup defence
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Seven months after lifting the trophy, Manchester United made a successful start to its defense of the English League Cup on Tuesday by beating Crystal Palace 3-0.
Alejandro Garnacho and Casemiro fired the holders into a 2-0 first-half lead at Old Trafford and Anthony Martial added a third after the break in the third-round match.
It is now back-to-back wins for Erik ten Hag’s team, which has endured a disappointing start to the season.
The dominant performance against an understrength Palace followed Saturday’s narrow victory at Burnley and will give United fans hope the team has turned its form around.
“The mood is always good, but of course when you are not winning at United there is disappointment, and there is frustration, but the togetherness is always there,” Ten Hag said. “We know we are not now in the position where we want to be. So we have to build up, we have to catch up and then you have to go from game to game, working on the process and working on the results. Don’t get too far ahead.”
The League Cup ranks fourth among English soccer’s most important trophies. But Ten Hag still savored last season’s success.
Victory against Newcastle in February’s final at Wembley Stadium ended the club’s six-year wait for a trophy and saw Ten Hag deliver silverware in his first season at the club. He went on to also reach the FA Cup final, only to lose to Manchester City, and also guided United back into the Champions League to mark an impressive campaign.
Things have not gone so well this term, with his team losing four out of five games before beating Burnley 1-0.
This latest victory was far more convincing, even if Palace benched regular starters Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Joachim Anderson and was also without forward Odsonne Edouard.
Ten Hag also made changes with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund on the bench and Christian Eriksen absent.
Mason Mount, however, made his first appearance since Aug. 19 after returning from an injury.
Garnacho fired United ahead in the 21st minute after converting Diogo Dalot’s cutback in the box.
His low shot had too much power for Palace goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who had only just come on as a substitute for the injured Dean Henderson.
Johnstone was tested again moments later when Dalot blasted an effort from an angle, which the keeper blocked.
He was beaten again, however, in the 27th, this time by Casemiro, who headed in Mount’s corner to double United’s lead.
Martial added a third 10 minutes into the second half when firing across goal after meeting Casemiro’s looping ball to the far post.
United plays Palace again in the Premier League on Saturday and the Londoners showed their threat when twice forcing saves from ‘keeper Andre Onana later in the match. But manager Roy Hodgson did not sound confident about securing a different outcome when the teams next meet.
“We are going to have to become a totally different team in the way we approach the game and the way we play the game,” he said.
Third-division Exeter produced a shock 1-0 win against Luton to knock the Premier League club out of the competition. Luton made 10 changes from the team that picked up its first topflight point of the season against Wolverhampton on Saturday, but the result will still go down as a big upset. Demetri Mitchell scored the winner in the 83rd, but Exeter had to see out the game with 10 men after he was sent off in the 88th.
Wolverhampton was also eliminated after throwing away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at second-division Ipswich. Hwang Hee-Chan and Toti Gomes had seemingly put the visitors on course for the next round after goals inside the first 15 minutes. But Omari Hutchinson, Freddie Ladapo and Jack Taylor sealed a comeback win for Ipswich.
Burnley is still waiting for its first win in the league this season, but it is powering on in the cup after a 4-0 win against Salford City, the fourth division club co-owned by Manchester United greats including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.
Elsewhere, Middlesbrough beat Bradford 2-0 and Port Vale won 2-1 against Sutton United.
Fourth-division Mansfield beat third-division Peterborough 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation time. Lucas Akins’ penalty to even the score in the 93rd had sent the game to a shootout.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer
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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada
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Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures
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Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support
Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.
Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms
Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.
In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.
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