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Spanish Soccer meets PT Barnum!

“There's no such thing as bad publicity, as long as they spell your name right”. That famous quote is credited to American showman and circus owner P.T. Barnum (1810-1891).

Hey, everybody knows who won the Woman's World Cup now. Otherwise it would disappear from the headlines. See...things always work out for the best!

Spanish Soccer Is Paralyzed as Chief Refuses to Quit—and There Are Few Ways to Oust Him

More than a week after Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed women’s world champion Jenni Hermoso, moves to oust him quickly are stalling

The president of Spain’s soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, has refused to resign.

By Joshua Robinson, WSJ

Aug. 31, 2023 6:00 am ET

The Spanish women’s national team is supposed to make its triumphant return in late September for its first games as world champions. Those matches, against Sweden and Switzerland, will go a long way toward determining whether the team qualifies for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris and attempt a rare double by following a World Cup with Olympic gold.

The problem is that Spain currently has no players.

The entire squad that lifted the World Cup has said that it would refuse to represent the country under the program’s current leadership, in response to federation president Luis Rubiales’s forcibly kissing player Jenni Hermoso during the on-field celebrations in Sydney. Hermoso has said that the kiss wasn’t consensual and that she “felt vulnerable and the victim of assault.”

But Rubiales himself is refusing to quit, despite a suspension from soccer’s world governing body, a criminal investigation in Spain and a demand that he leave from top officials of the very federation he presides over.

That has left the world’s best team trapped in a standoff—with no players who are willing to pull on a Spain jersey.

The situation has raised the question of why Spain’s soccer federation doesn’t simply remove Rubiales from the post. A top committee inside the Spanish federation, the Commission of Territorial presidents, has explicitly asked for Rubiales’s ouster.

But the commission doesn’t have the power to remove Rubiales. That can only be done by a unanimous vote of the federation’s board, which hasn’t given any indication of turning on Rubiales, or taken a vote of no-confidence by the federation’s 140-person general assembly. That same general assembly loudly applauded Rubiales when he announced last week that he had no intention to quit, contrary to reports that had been widely circulated in the Spanish press.

The most recent public statement from the federation remains the Commission of Territorial Presidents’ message from earlier this week.

“After the latest events and the unacceptable behaviors that have seriously damaged the image of Spanish football,” the commission said, “the presidents request that Mr. Luis Rubiales immediately present his resignation.”

Rubiales, for his part, seems content to tread water while pressure mounts from outside the federation. FIFA has provisionally suspended him from all soccer activities for 90 days pending disciplinary proceedings while Spanish prosecutors have also opened an investigation into the Hermoso kiss for possible sexual assault. For now, those appear to be the only mechanisms that could lead to Rubiales’s removal from his post. But neither is likely to unfold quickly.

His own mother also launched a hunger strike inside a church this week, arguing that her son was the target of a “witch hunt.” Her protest ended on Thursday after she was briefly hospitalized, according to reports in Spain.

In the meantime, the controversy has led to anti-Rubiales demonstrations around Spain and a larger reckoning around the treatment of female athletes in the country. Spanish women’s soccer players have mounted at least two major protests against their own federation over the past decade to demand better treatment. The most recent, in 2022, saw 15 players walk out because they felt that coach Jorge Vilda, supported by Rubiales, was overly controlling.

“The problem is not if Rubiales leaves or is fired—it is deeper than that,” former Spain national team player Vero Boquete wrote in the Guardian. “It’s something that we’ve been living and suffering for a long time. It was already the case when I played and it’s still the case with Rubiales, but it’s also all the people who work at the federation.”

Write to Joshua Robinson at

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