Jennifer Hermoso, Spain’s star player on the winning Women’s World Cup team, said Friday at no point did she consent to an unwanted kiss by the country’s soccer chief and she has refused to give in to “continuous pressure to make a statement” that could justify his actions.
“I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part,” Hermoso said on social media. “Simply put I was not respected.”
The president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, was filmed forcibly kissing Hermoso on the lips after she collected her winners’ medal Sunday in Sydney, Australia, an act which the 33-year-old World Cup winner later said she “didn’t like” and “didn’t expect.”
Rubiales, 46, has so far refused to resign from his position following a week of fierce criticism. Speaking at the federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday, he said he will “fight to the end.”
In a defiant speech, he described the kiss as “mutual” and spoke of “unjust” campaigns and “fake feminism,” and emphatically said, “I will not resign” several times during the almost 30-minute address, which has elicited further criticism.
In her statement, Hermoso said that Rubiales’ assertions that she consented to the kiss are “categorically false and part of a manipulative culture that he himself has generated.”
She described refusing requests to issue a statement to “alleviate the pressure” on Rubiales.
“Despite my decision, I must state that I have been under continuous pressure to make a statement that could justify Mr. Luis Rubiales’ actions,” Hermoso said.
Hermoso, along with teammates on Spain’s 2023 World Cup winning squad and other professional women soccer players, said Friday they would not play again for the country until Rubiales has been removed from his position.
Eighty-one people signed a statement posted to the players union site FUTPRO and shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“No woman should see herself needing to answer questions based on the blunt images that the entire world has seen and, of course, no one should be involved in attitudes without consent,” the statement reads.
The national team players continued: “It fills us with sadness that an act, so unacceptable as this, is managing to tarnish the biggest sporting achievement in Spanish women’s football history.
“After everything that’s occurred during the medal ceremony at the Women’s World Cup, we want to declare that all of the players who have signed this statement will not put themselves forward for National team selection as long as the actual leadership remains in place.”
CNN’s David J. Lopez contributed to this story.