'Caveman' Rubiales must go amid Hermoso controversy, says former Italy striker Morace

By Sports Desk August 25, 2023

Luis Rubiales is a "caveman" who must be forced to resign as president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) following his conduct at the Women's World Cup final, says former Italy striker Carolina Morace.

Rubiales has been widely criticised for his behaviour following Spain's 1-0 win over England in Sydney, having grabbed and kissed Roja star Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the celebrations. 

Hermoso said she "didn't like" the kiss during an Instagram live broadcast from inside the dressing room, and FIFA has since opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales – who was also seen grabbing his crotch while stood next to Spain's Queen Letizia and her daughter.

Rubiales was expected to announce his departure at a press conference on Thursday, only to refuse to resign during an extraordinary speech.

"A social assassination is being carried out, they are trying to kill me. For the last five years, I have suffered persecution," Rubiales said, adding: "A consensual peck is enough to get me out of here?"

In a joint statement released later on Friday, Spain's World Cup winners said they would not play any games while Rubiales remained in post, increasing the pressure on him to leave. 

Morace – who scored over 100 goals for Italy before managing the team between 2000 and 2005 – was repulsed by Rubiales' behaviour, telling Stats Perform: "I saw a caveman in the stands with attitudes that we in women's football don't want to have. Let him keep those for the men's football. 

"I think everyone distanced themselves from the attitude he had. I'm sorry that there have been people who have started to say, 'but the player has not reported it, so maybe it's a loving gesture'. 

"Her first reaction was disgust. Of course then the president went there to talk to her and tell her what to do. 

"Then when the whole controversy came out, Hermoso went back to saying certain things. Let's say she is free again. It was so clear that things went that way. 

"There are also people who defended him. No way. I'm happy because Spain is a serious country and therefore politicians have reacted in a certain way. 

"Now if this president doesn't resign, I hope the sponsors distance themselves from the team and from what's happening, but I think he will be forced to resign."

This is not the first controversy to rock women's football in Spain. Last year, a group of 15 players refused to represent La Roja under head coach Jorge Vilda, who was supported by the RFEF and subsequently took just three of the rebels to the World Cup. 

Some reports alleged Spain's players were forbidden from locking their doors at hotels ahead of games, which Morace views as another sign of outdated attitudes prevailing at the RFEF.

"There have also been attitudes from the coach who expects the girls from Spain to sleep with the door open," Morace added. "This is madness. It is normal that he had 15 players against him. 

"I would never ask my players to keep their doors open. How dare you? I mean, those aren't 12-year-old girls. They are adults and keeping the doors open means you can come in whenever you want."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also attracted criticism for telling female players to "pick the right battles" and "convince" men of the validity of claims for equal pay last week. 

For attitudes towards women's football to be modernised, Morace believes more women must assume roles at the top of the game.

She added: "There were women of a certain type in FIFA who no longer work in FIFA, like Tatjana Haenni who has now become responsible for the American professional league, and Mayi Blanco who is also responsible for events. 

"In my opinion we went back 10 years by sending them home, we had to start again from there. That was a good starting point, now we're back. Now Infantino has to tell us what we have to do. 

"He must choose the right people to make a movement grow, but they must be people who are inside the movement and who believe in the movement, not people taken from outside and brought in."

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