Spain’s World Cup victory was meant to be a moment of celebration for the country. But now, players are boycotting the national team, and staffers of the Spanish soccer federation are resigning in protest against its president, Luis Rubiales, who was provisionally suspended by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, after he kissed a player on the lips, allegedly against her will.
Midfielder Jenni Hermoso, 33, says she did not consent to the kiss, which happened at the post-match ceremony, and that she and her family have faced pressure from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to absolve Rubiales, 46. Players around the world, and Spain’s government, have expressed their support for Hermoso, and protesters have filled downtown Madrid over the weekend calling for his resignation. Elsewhere, Rubiales’s mother has mounted a hunger strike from her local church in support of her son. The issue remains on the front pages of European newspapers and is a heated talking point for many on the treatment women in sports.
But Spain’s soccer federation has accused Hermoso of lying and said it will take legal action. It also released a series of photos of Hermoso and Rubiales in a statement that local media described as “strange.”
Here’s what to know about a controversy that has sparked a crisis in Spanish soccer.