Spain star Aitana Bonmatí used her UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award speech to call out “abuses of power” following a top official’s unwanted kiss, as FIFA’s chief said the team’s World Cup-winning celebrations had been “spoiled” by the controversy.
Spain’s World Cup victory has been overshadowed by the storm surrounding Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales after he forcibly kissed forward Jenni Hermoso during the celebrations on August 20.
“We just won the World Cup but nobody is talking about that much because things have happened I wished hadn’t,” Bonmatí said Thursday at the awards ceremony in Monaco.
“I would like to speak a bit about what has happened. I think as a society we shouldn’t allow abuses of power in a work relationship, as well as a lack of respect. So from my teammate Jenni to all the women who suffer the same, we are with you.
“I hope we keep working to improve society.”
UEFA, European football’s governing body, honored midfielder Bonmatí for her influential role in helping Barcelona win the Spanish title and Champions League last season followed by her World Cup triumph with Spain.
After collecting the prize for UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year, England women’s head coach Sarina Wiegman dedicated her award to the Spanish national team, which beat England 1-0 in the World Cup final.
After thanking everyone involved with England’s Lionesses, Wiegman said the award “feels a little different.”
“We all know the issues around the Spanish team and it really hurts me as a coach, as a mother of two daughters, as a wife and as a human being,” Wiegman added.
“The game has grown so much but there’s also still a long way to go in women’s football and in society. I would like to dedicate this award to the Spanish team. The team that played in the World Cup such great football that everyone enjoyed.
“This team deserves to be celebrated and deserves to be listened to and I’m going to give them again a big applause and I hope you will join me.
Infantino says Spain’s celebrations ‘spoiled’
On Thursday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino released a statement on social media noting the ongoing controversy surrounding Rubiales.
Without mentioning specifics, the head of global soccer’s governing body said what occurred at the medal ceremony after Spain won the World Cup “should never have happened.”
“Sadly … the well-deserved celebrations for these magnificent champions was spoiled by what happened after the final whistle. And what continued to happen in the following days,” he said.
“This should never have happened. But it did happen and FIFA’s disciplinary bodies immediately assumed their responsibility and took the necessary actions. The disciplinary proceedings will continue their legitimate course.”
Rubiales was provisionally suspended by FIFA on Saturday.
Along with the mounting pressure to step down, Rubiales also faces an investigation that could end in sexual aggression charges from Spanish prosecutors.
Earlier this week, all 19 of the Spanish federation’s regional presidents called for Rubiales to resign while also offering unanimous support for interim president Pedro Rocha, who stepped into the role following Rubiales’ suspension by FIFA.