• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Why Spain’s action in ‘kiss to jail’ saga seen as phenomenal

Why Spain’s action in ‘kiss to jail’ saga seen as phenomenal

Partly in a drive to secure the co-hosting right with Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 FIFA men’s World Cup, the Spanish government has taken bold steps to restore normalcy in the country’s senior national women’s football team.

Most of Spain’s World Cup-winning players had vowed not to join the national team for the Nations League games against Sweden, and Switzerland after the ‘kiss to jail’ saga between Luis Rubiales, the federation’s former president, and Jenni Hermoso, a female player.

The players had been in open rebellion for more than three weeks, ever since the players said on August 25, 2023, that they would not play again for their country until the federation had new leadership.

After Rubiales stepped down, the players still refused to come back until the federation underwent thorough reform.

Read also: Luis Rubiales resigns as Spain FA president

The female players had concluded plans to boycott the upcoming women’s national team matches, but the timely intervention of the government brought about an agreement to make immediate changes at the country’s beleaguered soccer federation.

The government in quick reaction to the shameful development announced on Wednesday, September 20, that Andreu Camps, the federation’s secretary general has been relieved of his duties.

Camps was considered a close associate of Rubiales, and his removal had been one of the changes demanded by the players.

The overnight meeting coincided with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez meeting with Gianni Infantino in New York to promote Spain’s joint bid with Portugal and Morocco to host the men’s World Cup in 2030.

Sánchez’s government had expressed concern that the Rubiales scandal could hurt the bid.

Spanish politicians, soccer clubs, and players, along with many fans, have supported the players in their clash with the federation.

The government and feminist groups have characterised it as a “Me Too” movement in Spanish soccer.

Amanda Gutiérrez, the president of the FUTRPO players’ union, said steps had been made toward establishing the same treatment for Spain’s women’s and men’s national teams.

Read also: Women World Cup: Olga Carmona, Spain goal scorer loses father

“An agreement has been reached to make changes to the structure of women’s soccer, so that the executive and administrative staff will match that of the men’s team, to further professionalise the team and staff,” Gutiérrez said.

Víctor Francos, Spain’s secretary for sports and president of the Higher Council for Sports said the “cordial meetings” led to the creation of a committee involving players, the federation, and the government.

He said the agreements should promote advances in gender policies and equal pay, as well as lead to structural changes in women’s soccer.

Another step taken by the federation was the elimination of the term “de fútbol femenino,” “women’s soccer,” from the name of the team.

The federation said in a statement that both the men’s and women’s national teams would officially be known as “Selección Española de Fútbol,” or “Spain’s national soccer team.”

“More than a symbolic change, we want this to represent a conceptual shift and recognition that soccer is soccer, regardless of who plays it,” Pedro Rocha, the federation’s interim president, said in the statement.

Spain’s acting Minister for Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, said he was hopeful the expected reforms by the federation would create an environment in which “the players truly feel motivated, comfortable, and happy to play and to win.”

This step has tremendously changed the narrative as only two players, Barcelona teammates Patri Guijarro and Mapi León, opted to leave the training camp in the eastern city of Valencia after receiving guarantees from the government that they would not be sanctioned, with the rest staying after being told that some of their demands for reform would be met.

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It is important that the government stepped in, not just because of the World Cup hosting right but also because of the tension in the country’s women’s national football team over the ‘kiss to jail’ incident.

The players should also remember that to err is human and to forgive is divine. Luis Rubiales’ and Jenni Hermoso’s saga is a lesson for generations unborn, and posterity is there to judge.