Spain’s absolute mess puts major damper over Women’s World Cup win

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Aug. 28, 2023

Last week when I filed for The IX’s Soccer Monday, it was just hours after Spain won the World Cup and things were still filtering out about the now-infamous “kiss” of Jenni Hermoso by Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales.

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It’s my job to be thoughtful and get to the facts, and there just wasn’t a whole lot out there about what had transpired. We were asking questions but weren’t getting answers. So if it felt like I wasn’t taking the kiss seriously, that’s not the case. I was proceeding with caution in a situation where there were language barriers.

The Spanish delegation left Sydney at 6 a.m. Monday following the match, and the whole story really didn’t start to trickle out until I was already in the air headed home. We had conflicting reports about Hermoso’s comments in relation to the incident on Monday.

It was a slow drip of reaction and outrage. FIFPRO’s statement calling for action came on Wednesday.

Then it all went down on Friday. Rubiales was expected to step down, but instead gave a fiery speech decrying “false feminism” and casting himself as a victim. Among those in the audience who applauded him was Spain coach Jorge Vilda.

Hermoso then put out her own statement.

Vilda, by the way, also painted himself as a victim during the World Cup, saying that the whole rebellion by 15 of his players last September was hard on his family. Four of his assistants resigned on Saturday. Vilda did not step down, but finally issued a statement criticizing Rubiales’ behavior.

From there it got even more crazy. The Spanish federation suggested they were going to take legal action against Hermoso. “We have to state that Ms. Jennifer Hermoso lies in every statement she makes against the President.”

FIFA took action with a 90-day suspension.

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FIFA said Rubiales couldn’t contact Hermoso. And no one else can, either. That means Vilda, too.

Likewise, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and in order to preserve, among other factors, the fundamental rights of the national soccer team player Ms. Jennifer Hermoso and the good order of the disciplinary proceedings before this disciplinary body, has issued two additional directives by which he orders Mr. Luis Rubiales to refrain, through himself or third parties, from contacting or attempting to contact the professional player of the Spanish national football team Ms. Jennifer Hermoso or her close environment. Likewise, the RFEF and its officials or employees, directly or through third parties, are ordered to refrain from contacting the professional player of the Spanish national team Ms. Jennifer Hermoso and her close environment.

Support for Hermoso was everywhere. On Friday night, players at the match between the San Diego Wave and the Orlando Pride wore wrist tape that said “Contigo Jenni”:

Aug 25, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; The San Diego Wave FC starting lineup shows support for Jenni Hermoso after the game against the Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Even Andres Iniesta, whose goal won the World Cup for Spain in 2010, weighed in.

Aug 20, 2023; Sydney, AUSTRALIA; Jenni Hermoso (10 Spain) passes the ball during the FIFA Womens World Cup 2023 Final football match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Noe Llamas/Sipa USA via USA TODAY Sports


Good story from the Guardian wrapping up all up, going back to the days of Vero and even before.

The Athletic looks at some of the questions surrounding the whole mess.

Because apparently we need to bet on everything, there’s odds for the next USWNT coach.

Anson Dorrance got into a bit of hot water for his comments about Stanford and Cal.

Jason Anderson takes a look at Michelle Kang’s plans for Pro Soccer Wire.

Franklin Foer’s interview with Megan Rapinoe for The Atlantic.

Just Women’s Sports with a look at how Ashley Hatch responded to the national team snub.

European teams are overtaking the NWSL and that’s a good thing for women’s soccer.

Sandra Hererra’s favorite World Cup stories for CBS Sports (video).

The Equalizer’s explainer on the Spain crisis.

Rachel Bachman’s wrapup of the World Cup for the Wall Street Journal.

Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders whether the status quo will get in the way of developing talent.

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I did some work I’m very proud of during the Women’s World Cup and I wanted to generate a few more clicks before we all move on:

I wrote about how FIFA embraced Indigenous cultures at this World Cup, and the efforts to create a lasting legacy.

I wrote about what’s next for several teams: USA, Germany and Brazil reassess. Nigeria is just hoping to get paid.

Spain’s young and talented squad has a bright future.

Saying Goodbye: Some of the game’s biggest stars have played in their last World Cup.

Some players had a big payday at the World Cup. Will they get it?

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Five at The IX: Sarai Bareman, head of women’s football at FIFA

The day before the Women’s World Cup final, FIFA’s head of women’s football, Sarai Bareman, addressed those gathered for a women’s soccer convention attached to the tournament. The first one occurred 2019 in France.

I thought that what she said was fantastic, and I wish that the tournament wouldn’t have been spoiled by Rubiales. Because it was really fantastic.

Here’s Bareman’s speech:

“I haven’t felt a wave of emotion like this since the last time that I took this stage four years ago, four years ago in France and I’m so happy to see so many familiar faces in this room, so many new faces. And in four short years, look at how much has changed. Look how far we’ve come and look at how much the women’s game has grown. And today, I’m so proud. I stand here proud not only as the chief women’s football officer in FIFA I stand here as a proud woman, as a proud football fan, as a proud former player, as a proud mother and a proud daughter of this region. And every single one of you should feel the same sense of pride that I’m feeling right now. Because this game, like the video said, is yours and there’s a reason that you’re sitting in your seat today. All the thousand seats in this room are just as important as the ones next to them. But these 1000 seats are just as important as the seats outside this room, in the stadiums and people’s homes and the offices and the football federations all around this globe. You have all played your part to take this game beyond greatness and to accelerate the growth of women’s football.

“When I started at FIFA in 2016, some said that we couldn’t. It was the first time FIFA had ever established a dedicated division for women’s football. Some said that we wouldn’t. And some even said that we shouldn’t. But look at us now, look at the women’s game, look at how far we have come in a few short years. Even in 2016 we already knew the greatness of women’s football. You knew it. And in 2019 the world woke up. More than 1 billion people felt the magic of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and through your hard work. The greatness of the woman’s game was on show to the world. But even then, the word that we kept using, that we kept hearing, that was continually used was potential, the potential of the woman’s game. And we spoke about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. But today it’s a time to take a moment to celebrate what we’ve achieved and how far we’ve come. So this FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, it wasn’t about proving a point anymore. It wasn’t about fulfilling potential anymore. Our point is already proven and the numbers speak for themselves. We’ve moved past potential.

“This tournament is a turning point. We’ve been talking about women’s football as this cultural movement and this year we have found a seismic shift in the way that people see the woman’s game. 2023 is about showing the world what it means to take this game beyond greatness. To put our players on the pedestal where they belong, to fill the stadiums, to smash records, and we were doing it on a daily basis in this tournament, to break down barriers and to show every young boy and young girl, from every corner of this world, that they can dream to make a living playing football. Because finally for young girls, as the video so beautifully showed, the heroes look like them. Young boys are wearing the name of their favorite players on their back and writing their names on homemade signs. You see them in the stadiums and every single match. And it’s not Ronaldo or Messi. It’s Marta, Putellas, Bronze, Morgan, Hasegawa, Wilkinson.

“And it’s not a surprise anymore. It’s just football. To the next generation, role models are role models, the gender doesn’t matter. Young boys are back flipping and their back yards pretending to be Sam and without even knowing how much it is warming the hearts of their mums and dads.

“To my woman’s football colleagues in this room, the heads of women’s football, the women’s football managers, the women’s football officers, advocates of the woman’s game. To those who have been fighting this fight by our side for so long, and I know it hasn’t been easy. The ones who are grinding every day for women’s football on the pitch, off the pitch, in the 211 countries all around this world. We’ve spent years knocking on the doors of people who didn’t care who wouldn’t invest, people that ignored what to us was simply so obvious. This is your moment. It’s not a moment for you to say I told you so. But it’s a moment for you to smile and take it all in. And tomorrow when you’re in the stadium surrounded by 75,000 people feeling the full force of the woman’s game, joined by billions around the world who wish they were there, take a moment to smile and take it all in. Take 90 minutes to smile. Because this is your time. This is your game. This is our time. Smile when you reflect on all the times that you didn’t take no for an answer because those are the moments that drove us here. Those are the moments that made this World Cup the success that it is today. Every single one of you. Smile because you know that there’s still hard work ahead but the rewards are greater than ever smile because every person in this room has got your back. And we’re all in this together. And we don’t have to say I told you so. Because now they know.

“They told us no one cared but now millions are packed into our stadiums. They told us that growing up women couldn’t earn a living playing our game but the lives of 736 players have changed forever, thanks to this FIFA Women’s World Cup. They told us that no one would watch, but in all hours of the morning and night billions are tuning in from all over the world. And it’s not just the players. It’s referees, administrators, volunteers, media all forging their careers from the love of women’s football. And look at us now. There’s nothing that will stop us. We’ve gone beyond potential, we’ve taken the game beyond greatness and we’re not done yet.

“And we need to be ready, because after this FIFA Women’s World Cup women’s football is going to explode in every single one of your countries. And we need to be ready for it. There will be millions and millions of girls and women around this world who will sign up to play football for the first time ever after this World Cup and everyone needs to stand ready with investment, with infrastructure, with coaches, with referees, with tournaments, member associations, clubs, federations, confederations. We need to stand ready to receive that interest and to retain it in our game in a sustainable way.

“To the presidents and the general secretaries in the room, the decision makers, please place your trust in your women’s football people, they are your experts are on the ground, they have our full support and they need yours. Take notice of what you feel in the stadium tomorrow and think about this power and this cultural movement and what it can do in your own country. It’s not just football, it’s different. And tomorrow when you’re in the stadium, you will feel it and if you haven’t already, you’ll know exactly what I’m feeling about. And that feeling that you get when you’re sitting in the stadium while the team are marched out and the national anthems are playing, the crowd is going crazy. The atmosphere, that feeling that you have, remember this: It’s women’s football that brought you that feeling. The FIFA Women’s World Cup it’s the biggest lever that we have once every four years to supercharge and accelerate the growth of our women’s game. And to those that have been riding the wave let’s do what we can to continue that momentum, well after the final whistle blows tomorrow evening. And to those in the room that are yet to join and there’s very few, the time is now. Take something from these two days back to your home countries and make a commitment to women’s football. Start somewhere, start now, connect with someone in this room, learn from those around you. This is one moment that we have every four years to connect, to share, to grow the woman’s game together. So don’t miss this opportunity. Because remember, this game is yours.

“As a proud New Zealander over the past month I’ve had the greatest privilege of experiencing a FIFA Women’s World Cup in my home country. And I can’t quite put into words what it means to me so many people are asking me, but what is certain is the deep sense of pride that I feel, not just alongside my fellow Kiwis, or my friends across the Tasman here in Australia, but for everyone, all over the world, for everyone in this room, for every single one of our 211 member associations. And there is nothing on this planet that brings people together the way that this tournament has, that can empower young girls and women the way that this tournament has, and to create a platform for greater societal change, like the FIFA Women’s World Cup does.

“And for me, this is obviously a special one. To finish I want to try to put into words what it felt like for me when New Zealand claimed their first ever win at a FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil — so far my most memorable moment at this woman’s World Cup. What you need to understand is that I grew up in a rugby mad country. I have 13 nephews, 13 rugby loving young boys who were all at Eden Park when Hannah Wilkinson hit the back of the net in that opening match. And in and amongst the madness, the tears, and there were a lot, the cheers, the celebrations. I did something that I promised myself before this tournament that I would do. I took a moment to take it all in. And when I looked over, I saw all 13 of them, fist pumping, hugging, worshipping the new hero, Hannah Wilkinson, not a rugby player. Not a man, a Football Fern.

“And then it hit me: To this generation of young boys. They don’t know the difference. They didn’t even make a conscious effort to support women’s football, or one second to compare the men’s game to the women’s game. And they don’t care and nor should they. It was just 13 young boys in awe of their hero, 13 Young about the boys who will one day be 13 Men, 13 Men who won’t need to worry about being allies. Just 13 men who will one day live in a world where men and women are equal. And football is just football. That is the power of women’s football. And that is the power of this Women’s World Cup.”

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Written by Annie Peterson