By John Ensor •
Published: 02 Sep 2023 • 14:09
The controversy following the Women’s World Cup Final, and the ongoing fallout, has left many Spaniards having to defend their country’s reputation, claiming that Spain has been left tarnished.
The euphoria of countless Spaniards who painted Sydney’s Stadium Australia red on Sunday, August 20, has evaporated as quickly as a fleeting kiss. The ‘Rubiales saga’ has shifted the narrative, leaving many Spaniards in Australia defending their country’s reputation, according to Nuis Diario.
The women’s national team’s World Cup win was a moment of intense pride for Spaniards, both in Spain and thousands of kilometres away in Australia. But the suspended president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, and his kiss with player Jenni Hermoso have sparked a media frenzy down under.
In Australia, the incident has led to editorials, TV debates, and social media uproar. Spaniards have gone from receiving praise for a historic championship to becoming accidental ambassadors of a Spain that many wish to forget. ‘Rubiales is not Spain,’ they insist.
Australians have been vocal in their criticism. The silence of most of the men’s national football team and Rubiales’ talk of ‘false feminism’ have not only overshadowed the World Cup win but also raised questions about Spanish society. ‘Imagine, they think we don’t care about anything, that we have no respect for anything. They think we’re all like that about one person’s actions,’ said Cristian Couto, a football academy director in Cairns, Queensland.
Cristian, originally from Madrid, described the win as a ‘dream come true.’ But as details of Rubiales’ actions emerged, his joy turned to shame. ‘I feel ashamed. I have a discomfort in my body to say “hey, we’re not like that”,’ he said.
In Australia, the conversation around gender equality in sports is different. The women’s and men’s football teams share 40 per cent of commercial revenue equally. In this context, the Rubiales incident has caused significant unrest. ‘It makes me angry, because we are winners,’ said Sara Gomez, a Spanish teacher in Sydney.
The Australian press has been relentless. Craig Foster, a media activist and former international footballer, questioned the silence of the men’s team. Michell Rimmer, a journalist, stated that Spain ‘has a long way to go’ on equality issues.
Despite Spain’s progressive policies, the ‘Rubiales saga’ has put the spotlight on a society that some argue continues to be deeply sexist. The incident has left many Spaniards in Australia grappling with a complex and uncomfortable reality.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
Most aussies understand the difference between a criminal sexual assault, and simple regret by a willing participant after the fact.
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