29 Aug, 2023 @ 09:05
1 min read

Protests and counter protests across Spain as Luis Rubiales sexism controversy rumbles on

Feminist protestors in Madrid

MONDAY night saw protests and counter-protests across Spain, as the controversy over Football Federation chairman Luis Rubiales’ forced kiss of female player Jenni Hermoso rumbled on into its second week. 

Hundreds of people turned out in central Madrid for a demonstration organised by the Comision 8M feminist group, where attendees were out in support of the Spain women’s football team and to demand an end to sexism in sport. 

Many of the protestors were carrying signs with the hashtag ‘SeAcabó’, meaning ‘it’s over’. The slogan was first used by one of the female players on social media and is quickly becoming the Spanish equivalent of the #MeToo hashtag that gained popularity in 2017 as a way of drawing attention to sexual abuse and harrassment suffered by women at the hands of men. 

Among the attendees was the caretaker equality minister, Irene Montero of the leftist Podemos party. “Jenni, you are not alone,” she wrote on social media. “Only yes means yes.”

The organisers of the event stated that around 5,000 people were in attendance while the central government’s delegation in Madrid estimated a more conservative 800.

Meanwhile, in Rubiales’ home town of Motril in Granada province, a counter protest in support of the 46-year-old was taking place. 

Around 50 supporters congregated last night in the municipality, carrying slogans with messages such as ‘Stop the witch hunt against Rubiales’.

They chose to stage their protest outside the Divina Pastora church, where on Monday Rubiales’ mother, Angeles Bejar, shut herself in, announcing that she would be going on a hunger strike until the ‘witch hunt’ against her son came to an end. 

Since then, Bejar has only been seen once, when she came to the door of the temple to receive her sister, according to Spanish daily El Mundo. She has not made any statements to the press since her protest began. 

The controversy was sparked on August 20, when Rubiales grabbed player Jenni Hermoso by the head and planted a kiss on her lips during the medal ceremony at the Women’s World Cup Final, which Spain won 1-0 against England. 

Despite the mounting criticism against him from the public and politicians alike, Rubiales has staunchly refused to admit that he has done anything wrong and repeatedly stated on Friday that he would not resign. 

At the weekend, however, he was provisionally suspended from his roles as chairman of the Football Federation and vice-president of UEFA. Last night the Federation itself withdrew his support for him and unanimously called on him to quit.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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