The journalist from El Debate presents his book "La que ha liado Rubiales!" in which he unravels everything that happened around the controversial kiss of the former president of the RFEF to the national team player after winning the Women's World Cup

Chema Rubio: "Nobody asked Luis Rubiales for an account until he kissed Jenni Hermoso"

Chema Rubio
Chema Rubio - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

Luis Rubiales' kiss as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to Jennifer Hermoso, player of the Spanish national team, at the celebration immediately after the women's World Cup win sparked social and political controversy. 

What was a simple anecdote at the beginning, the result of excessive joy and effusiveness derived from the great sporting achievement, turned into a social and political hunt against Luis Rubiales, who ended up out of the presidential post and immersed in legal proceedings for an alleged sexual assault. 

Atalayar spoke to Chema Rubio, a journalist from El Debate, to talk about the book "La que ha liado Rubiales!" A very interesting essay on the whole procedure of this case that ended with the lynching of Luis Rubiales, within a murky process both in the media and at the highest political and sporting levels. What a mess Rubiales has made, never better said.

Present us this essay on the fall of Luis Rubiales after the kiss with Jenni Hermoso, in order to attract everyone to read it.  

Readers and many football fans and non-football fans can imagine that the Spanish women's national team won a World Cup against all odds and with hardly any professionalism, and that this was a huge credit to Luis Rubiales for his commitment to women's football.  

The cover of the book is not a photo with rights, it is a screenshot, as many media did of that moment that was not captured, in which he gives a kiss on the mouth to one of the players. She was not the one who scored the goal in the final, she was of little consequence, Olga Carmona, and this kiss stepped on the wrong side of a government that had been protecting Luis Rubiales since he took office.  

When he came to office he told president Pedro Sánchez that he is a socialist, that his father was a socialist too, he sells that socialist image and the government protected him because he provided balance against Javier Tebas, the president of LaLiga.  

Despite the problems with the business with Saudi Arabia with Gerard Piqué and messages to Pedro Sánchez nothing happened with him, but there came a time when there was a kiss to a player on the mouth, the Government was in a moment of reaching the Presidency with some pro-independence political parties, with the extreme left and their women's laws, some of them quite twisted, and it was the perfect moment to throw up a smoke screen, a very thick smoke, so that there would be no talk of these conversations with the pro-independence people and of these men sentenced for sexual assault cases by the Yes is Yes law. It was said: "Let's justify that law with that kiss".  

Someone tell me if that kiss is comparable to complicated and dramatic cases of gender violence. 

Chema Rubio
Chema Rubio - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

A sporting success turned into a political and social hunt for this person who made this mistake. 

In fact, that's when I started writing the book. I think everyone, including the women we may have around us, saw this as a "He's gone too far...", "What is he doing...". I liken Luis Rubiales in the book to Torrente, the character in Santiago Segura's film, a bit tawdry, a bit rough around the edges. Could he have lost his job for that in a normal country? The answer is yes. But he would never have lost it for this. He had people and press protecting him from the government and around him.  

But, suddenly, there were some politicians who were sentenced to no longer being in the government, like Pablo Echenique or Irene Montero, who did not know what to do with their future and who saw this through the prism of their extreme defence of women, who have not done great favours in recent times to justify certain laws. A person who would end up apologising and staying in power was subjected to a manhunt. Within six to eight hours of the event, the political hunt was on to finish him off. 

Chema Rubio
Chema Rubio - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

Shortly after the final, this was taken as an anecdote, although the ball grew and a spiral was generated around the fact that this could not be allowed. 

Exactly. The headline "La que ha liado Rubiales!" comes from a presenter on La Sexta who naturally says "what Rubiales has done" in a spontaneous gesture, because almost all the media and almost all of Spain could have thought that, but we didn't have the twisted vision that this was a sexual assault.  

I refer to that television channel because it was the one that took a dramatic turn within hours. They went against Rubiales, who had to resign.  

When I start listening to talk shows and reading about the issue, I see the position of journalists to go against him. Within hours the mentality changed, within hours videos appeared of the player saying that she didn't like it, but that was as far as it went.  The machinery was very hard and it started to run fast.

In the book you talk about other scandals or dark episodes of Luis Rubiales as president of the RFEF, but consented to because of his good relationship with the socialist government, which did not make him fall. But this latest episode, together with the presence of a Socialist Executive with certain partners, has brought him down.  

Yes, because let's remember, for example, Rubiales in a press conference saying that his sister broke his legs when he was a child, that he was a humble person from Motril; a grotesque press conference to justify not only that the Super Cup was taken to Saudi Arabia, something that was even solvent for the Royal Spanish Football Federation and for the territorial federations, who were very happy to receive this money that comes from Arabia, because we have to think about football from below, money that comes from the Federation.  

Everyone was happy, but certain murky information is discovered and leaked and everything points to the fact that his uncle Juan Rubiales, in the book the episode is reflected, leaks conversations with Piqué, messages to the president of the government, attempts to communicate with King Juan Carlos, all of this could cost you your job. He comes out, puts up a smokescreen, turns everything back to when he was little, to anything, tries to tell everything in his own way, takes off the part of his salary that came from these things and that's it. 

Nobody asked him to account for it until he kissed a player at an event where he had previously hugged Queen Letizia and touched his privates in the box a few metres away from the Infanta. He apologised for it, but it did not upset the government and public opinion as much as the kiss with Jenni Hermoso.

He closed himself off and did not resign, but the pressure was such that his resistance went nowhere.  

It was strange, a press conference called in August in hot weather, many journalists in Las Rozas, the RFEF headquarters, everything ready for his resignation and moments before it began to leak that he was not going to resign and he made another speech that will go down in history for what it meant, in which he repeated up to five times that he was not going to resign.  

He leaves everyone speechless, he leaves the government without the capacity to intervene, let's remember that the executive can only intervene in the RFEF through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAD), and then a mind-boggling situation arises. FIFA has to step in and suspend him, and in one day it went further than the government did in weeks. It suspended him and from then on he disappeared. Although his idea was to stay until the last moment, as he believed it wasn't such a big problem.

And even more so considering the sporting success attributed to the RFEF because objectively the Federation, under the leadership of Luis Rubiales, was very supportive of women's football and the national team, achieving resounding success despite the fact that there was a problem between the players and the coach. Luis Rubiales solved that in his own way, he provided a lot of resources for the players and he must have been very upset that a mistake, which was serious in the eyes of the gallery, cost him his job when he had done so much for women's football.  

I did some research into what Ángel María Villar, the previous president of the RFEF, had done for women's football, and I found a press conference in 2003 announcing a committee to support women's football and the fact that he said that his best memory was a second place in the world championship for the women's national team, that was the only thing that had been done, and keeping Ignacio Quereda as coach, a guy who had a totally despicable way of dealing with the players.

Rubiales, in his own way, is committed to women's football. When he took over, and I also mention this in the book, he backed women's football and the result was a World Cup. The result is perfect. It is also true that Jorge Vilda, the coach, was not liked by the players, his manners were not appropriate. Vilda ends up leaving the Federation because of pressure from the players, like other people, and that makes even men's football angry. But Rubiales, in his own way, had put in place the means to get there: a different contract with Adidas, their own T-shirt... 

The wave of excessive feminist pressure, I tell about it in the book, reached women's football. There was a natural growth of women's football at that time and Luis Rubiales' impulse was appreciated. Hence his refusal to leave because of this kiss, but there were stronger powers. 

La que ha liado Rubiales
La que ha liado Rubiales

Commenting on the questionable methods of Luis Rubiales in other areas that did not cost him his job, you rescue episodes of the RFEF with futsal, a discipline you know well. A section that may also attract readers to your book.  

There will be a book dedicated exclusively to futsal in terms of its relations with the RFEF. I spent years working with the National Futsal League and I knew the network that existed there. I was able to talk to Ángel María Villar and how, in 1989, he arrived and José María García burst futsal at the time because he didn't like that his team, Interviú, was losing money; that was fixed by the LNFS and he came to control the competition, being dependent on the RFEF. That relationship, after 32 years, was so perfect that two World Cups were won, a lot of Europeans, and teams like Movistar, ElPozo, Barcelona or Palma won in Europe.  

There came a time when the LNFS had such a good image that Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, bought the rights for his platform. He paid one million euros per season, five million in five seasons, and 30 years later José María García arrived to claim that money for his team, that has been proven and told. Tebas tells him that this money is going to be shared among all, José María García gets angry and Luis Rubiales enters the scene. García tells him that futsal is in the hands of Tebas' LaLiga and Luis Rubiales tells him that this cannot be. So, a legal loophole was found to take futsal from the LNFS to the RFEF and from then on futsal went underground.  

What was the problem? There was a personal confrontation with Javier Tebas, which was very delicate. So much so that when they broke into Luis Rubiales' mother's house, he "slipped in" that it could be Javier Tebas' entourage that did something like that. Evidently, it was a very harsh accusation.  

The plots of Luis Rubiales to take away futsal for a purely personal matter with Javier Tebas are told. Futsal is now something clandestine that is rarely seen on television and the money doesn't come in, the teams are amateur and they are not going to professionalise like that.  

It seems that with Pedro Rocha now as interim president of the RFEF they can reach an understanding, but it is complicated.

Chema Rubio
Chema Rubio - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

You also talk in the book about the peculiarities of the RFEF, always controversial, with the transition from former president Ángel María Villar to Luis Rubiales. 

I didn't live through the time before Pablo Porta, but you often hear José María García uncovering problems in the Federation, until Villar arrived.  

I was lucky enough to spend many hours interviewing Ángel María Villar and his way of working was to delegate too much. And that way of directing perhaps brought him his problems. Justice will tell whether or not he took or didn't take and whether or not he is guilty or not. But he delegated too much and that's where the problems came from.  

In the book it is said that people who were around him, such as Andreu Camps, pulled strings so that the sanction that was going to fall on Villar for favouring certain teams in the promotion didn't happen. It is also said that there seems to have been more of a political intention than anything else to remove him from power because there is no effective conviction. He has his accounts blocked, he has hardly any direct income; meanwhile, he is a beloved man in football and is invited by UEFA and FIFA to events. He has no problem talking to the press, but, at the time, when he was accused of being a despot with the media, he replied that he was the president who had the most journalists hired to tell what was being done in the Federation. The fact that he did not relate to the media was his problem and perhaps a big problem, but justice will tell if what happened with Villar is worthy of a sentence or not. 

The case of Rubiales was more obvious because what he did he did openly. Because José Manuel Franco, according to several media reports, even protected him from going to Congress to give explanations about the Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. The government wanted him in their entourage and he had his spokespersons in various media to defend him, all very crude, but it was his way of working. 

The national team players achieved success on the pitch, but the behaviour off it was perhaps not so exemplary. Luis Rubiales tried to give them the best conditions and then they sentenced him for this episode and also started to make all kinds of demands to the RFEF. What do you think?  

It looks like it was all trouble. They ask for the dismissal of Ignacio Quereda, they apologise for having asked for his dismissal, they dismiss Quereda, they put in Jorge Vilda, they don't want Vilda because he had worked with Quereda, they make problems for Vilda, they make a riot and decide not to go to the national team, the Federation puts them in their place, more for Andreu Camps than for Luis Rubiales, and the players are told that either they go or others are called up. Vilda calls up others, a few ask for forgiveness and come back...  

It has always been a complicated relationship. Now we know about the issue of open doors, the review of bags .... That's bad for the players, but the fact that the players didn't tell openly what was happening to them was bad; what exactly happened with Vilda and Rubiales and their behaviour towards them has not come to light. They could have complained openly and not through subterfuge. There were images of Rubiales celebrating the World Cup by grabbing the players by the thighs, kisses on the neck, etc... This is wrong and should have been denounced.  

They put up with it perhaps too much and now a lot of people have left the Federation because of pressure from the players and you can't just throw people out of a job for no reason. For example, Pablo García Cuervo is a journalist who is very close to the players and the players of the Spanish national team and there was pressure to get rid of him. Meanwhile, he has said that he was not given a reason to be sacked. That relationship is complicated. With the current coach, Montse Tomé, the relationship is going to continue to be complicated because she is not in their line either and we don't know if they will agree with a sentence condemning Rubiales, if that will be enough. 

What do you expect from the trial for the alleged sexual assault?  

That's the end of the book and I think it's very clear that it's going to be a social cause. I don't know if it will reach the streets. We have enough with other problems, such as that of the farmers. 

If the case ends up being dismissed or the sentence is small, there could be problems. We are lucky that Podemos is not in power and does not agitate the street and perhaps this is not on the agenda right now. But if the conviction is not strong there will be widespread displeasure for all those who wanted to crucify Rubiales. 

If the judge has any more clarity he can decide not to continue to pit women against men in acts like this, beware, like this, like this, as it is a simple kiss, as opposed to other very serious ones that should be condemned. If we do not want to equate it with cases of very dramatic violence that leave women and families very affected, this case should be put on the back burner. This is not done and this is learnt at school, where the civic rules of coexistence are learnt, and for a judge to have to say that this is an aggression shows that society is losing its values. This should not happen and if it does, the normal thing to do is to resign and leave, but if you have to go to court in this case, I think it's wrong. It's going to be a very complicated sentence to pass and I wouldn't like to be in the judge's role. 

La que ha liado Rubiales
La que ha liado Rubiales

What do you foresee happening with the RFEF and Pedro Rocha? 

I don't have any names for the Federation other than Rocha. Carlos Herrera is running, who could be a different figure. But this is not a general or municipal election in which a different person can have enough of an image because people in general vote. Not everybody votes here, territorial federations vote, non-professional football votes, referees vote, twelve representatives of futsal. You have to win over all these people like Luis Rubiales did in his day. You have to travel around Spain to talk to everyone.  

Buying the vote? Well, I don't know about buying the vote. Promising things in exchange for the vote? Well, if he promised them and fulfilled them, that's how all this is set up. If everyone who has a chip in Spain wants to vote, which means there are millions of them, I don't know if it could be done. But, at the moment, the way the system is set up, I don't think there is any other name on the table than Rocha. It would seem impossible to me. Unless the government executes a malicious plan to remove someone, even a woman, and put her in charge. But this is different, it's a world apart.  

Was Jenni Hermoso a weapon used by the left for their political interests and the women's national team another one used by the socialist government?  

I firmly believe that. From the moment she got on the plane to Doha, they started to move around her, in her head, I don't know if she is a more or less educated girl, I don't care. The fact is that she, in a natural action shortly after the event, gives it the right importance. It's true that she feels hurt, but she's put into a dynamic...  

In the book I talk about the existence of a women's football trade unionist who does a disservice to the girls by always having them at odds with the bosses. Jenni Hermoso is getting carried away and is playing a role against Rubiales because he puts unnecessary pressure on her, he sends Albert Luque and Jorge Vilda to talk to her brother, to her family... If she wanted to protect herself with the law and with feminism against that, then that was also her right. But she was manipulated, she gave a Campanadas even when the author of the definitive goal to win the World Cup was Olga Carmona. Does she give the Campanadas because she is the image of feminism? Well, it's a shame to go around like that because the one who scored the goal and the one who gave us the World Cup was Olga Carmona.  

Jenni Hermoso was totally manipulated and was on the cover of magazines, but she, as a good footballer, should be on the cover because of her worth as a player, which nobody has given her, but she is because she was caught up in this maelstrom and got carried away. 

Chema Rubio
Chema Rubio - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

Any more thoughts? 

There is a very interesting character who is Juan Rubiales, Luis Rubiales' uncle, who is the one who pulls the strings from the inside, who sees everything that happens. He was a well-known and respected journalist from Antena 3, and something happened to him that you will read about in the book, something very complicated at the gates of prison when they started to put people in prison for the famous illegal referendum of 1 October. He is in a prison in Madrid, a very serious event happens to him, he has to give up journalism and his nephew is taken by the Federation, when he arrives at the Federation what he sees there seems to be leaked, he reports it to the prosecutor because he sees things outside the law, it seems that he has to cover up uncomfortable and complicated things about Luis Rubiales, he tells them in two or three interviews, he doesn't want more light, he is retired, but he is one of the deep throats that shed some light. Although, I insist, it was not enough to get rid of Luis Rubiales.  

If his uncle leaked, which a sentence says he leaked, and nobody did anything against Luis Rubiales, in the end everything falls for a kiss. It falls for a kiss in front of the socialist government. I begin the book with a phrase from Alfonso Guerra and a law on gender violence that should have been much more useful for women who suffer gender violence, while hardly anything has been done for them because so many continue to die. In addition to this unjust law that differentiates between men and women, there is the "Yes is Yes" law to the point of putting rapists on the street; in the end nothing good is done for women, only to raise a feminism that is false feminism, and there I agree with Rubiales. Women have been entering society for a long time because of their worth and qualities and now the laws "force them to" and anything that "forces them to" is not good. 

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