Luis Rubiales kissing Jenni Hermoso unleashes social tsunami in Spain

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Luis Rubiales: Spanish federation president kisses Hermoso during ceremony

By Guillem Balague
BBC Sport

A kiss on the lips, a growing backlash and mass resignations among coaching staff: BBC Sport’s Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reflects on a tumultuous week for the sport and for Spain’s society as a whole.

This is the Spanish MeToo moment.

It’s an opportunity to focus everybody’s attention on the treatment of women in football – and on the frustration at what many see as systemic blindness at the top of an elite organisation, the Spanish football federation.

Jenni Hermoso is being backed not just by female players, but male players too – although perhaps not as much as hoped.

It’s caused a storm in football, which has turned into a social tsunami. It feels like wherever you are, everyone is talking about it, and in Spain it’s the number one story every day.

It’s a story about a man – Luis Rubiales – who appears completely out of touch with reality, a man long followed by acolytes and surrounded by supporters with an apparently identical world view.

But now, this influential group has become a minority.

Their defiance on this issue has left many people incredulous – and in Spain, they are looking exposed.

The coaching staff of the women’s national side has resigned, but notably not the manager Jorge Vilda, who was – alongside other senior figures in Spanish football – spotted clapping when Rubiales was talking yesterday.

This has not gone unnoticed by the Spanish public.

Remember that the players were not just asking for Rubiales to go, but for other members of the federation to go too. These women who have conquered the world see this moment as an opportunity to move aside anyone they think is standing in the way of their mission to achieve unflinching respect and equality.

For many people, this is about how discrimination against women functions. It not just done by one person; it is done by a system.

And in Spain, this episode shows how the battle lines have been drawn.

It’s a battle being taken up at the very highest level.

President Pedro Sanchez has no fear proclaiming himself a feminist. In the Spanish sporting groups I circulate in, people feel they must intervene – that action must be taken.

And beyond that, the feeling is Spain must take advantage of this moment, which has intensified so quickly and is capturing headlines around the world.

One week ago, we were celebrating a historic World Cup victory. That has quickly soured, some say. It’s been a whirlwind of success and recrimination, of holding to account – and of sheer defiance.

But there is one thing people on every side agree on: this is one of the most important weeks for Spain in living memory.

For many people, it’s an opportunity to move into a better place. For others it’s a chance to set the record straight – as they see it.

It’s difficult to exaggerate how influential Rubiales was. His defiance suggests he may have felt safety in that influence.

But the voices against him have multiplied, starting with Jenni Hermoso and her fellow players and then snowballing into their coaching staff, the men’s game and the newspapers. Now, this is being talked about around almost every single dinner table in Spain.

He may not feel so safe any more.

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