With the soccer players of the national team still on the pitch and Spain still on the street, the euphoria over winning the World Cup, the first for the women’s team, was marred on Sunday by a gesture as untimely as it was unusual. The president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, kissed Jenni Hermoso, one of La Roja’s players, on the mouth and without consent, in full celebration after winning the final against England in Sydney. The social impact and the enormous international repercussion, despite the initial silence of the affected person, put the president in the pillory. This Friday, Rubiales should offer explanations in an extraordinary assembly of the RFEF while the Spanish Government pressures him to leave office and the Higher Sports Council articulates the necessary mechanisms to resolve the case in response to the three complaints received for having contravened the Law on Sport on violence against women. The president of the CSD, Víctor Francos, answers about the process and about facts that he considers “unacceptable”. On Monday he should submit the file to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAD) while FIFA has already opened a disciplinary file for Rubiales. All roads lead to resignation or disqualification.
Ask. You ordered the Spanish Football Federation to open internal proceedings; He also said that Jennifer Hermoso’s version would illuminate that record. The player spoke for the first time this Wednesday through a statement issued by her union. What conclusion has she drawn?
Answer. What we have said is that we wanted a neat, absolutely verifiable and straight process and this Wednesday the representatives of Jennifer Hermoso spoke. What we do is read everything that is being processed. We do not make a decision regardless of all the information that is coming. That meets the necessary parameters to start our process, which is going to start yes or yes.
P. If the process opened by the federation led to a symbolic sanction of two months, would the CSD accept it?
R. I don’t know what will happen in the assembly, the CSD has some files and has to resolve them regardless of what the federation resolves tomorrow in its assembly.
P. If that sanction of the federation were given, the concept could be given not twice in the same by which a person cannot be punished twice for the same crime. Can the process that opens the CSD be blocked?
R. I think not, they apply their internal regulations with their rules and we apply the Sports Law.
P. Are you afraid that Rubiales could seek some legal trick that could block the action of the CSD?
R. No, I cannot say it more clearly and I have said it several times, we would like to have the complete file of the federation, but the CSD is going to apply its files, it is going to develop and implement them.
P. Why Rubiales is clinging to office?
R. That will have to be asked of him, it is not my job to talk about it.
P. The new Sports Law establishes a protocol so that the federations are the ones that judge and sanction this type of attitude.
R. Yes, but that is not an obstacle for the CSD to act on complaints or breaches of the Law. What we have said is that we want to know how the events have developed, we want the federation’s file to reach us and read it, but that , in no case does it imply that we have to make one or another decision regarding the case.
P. Is it necessary to wait for that file from the federation and not send the three complaints against Rubiales that have entered the CSD to the Administrative Court of Sport?
R. I think it’s the right thing to do; and I continue to defend it. In this country we have many emergencies, journalistically as well, and we want everything to be now. The correct thing is that if there is an internal file of the federation, which is investigating the case, that we can, at least, know its content. This has been communicated to the federation; You have also been told that this will not delay our process in any case.
P. If 90% of the extraordinary assembly supports Rubiales this Friday, what will the CSD read?
R. Well, 90% of the assembly wants Rubiales to continue. But that does not affect me, nor does it condition me.
P. Rubiales will defend her management at the head of women’s football during the assembly. Can an attack like the one seen on Sunday in Sydney be justified in this or that management?
R. No, the facts are inadmissible and unacceptable.
P. With the political, media and popular pressure that exists, do you think that resignation is the best way out for Luis Rubiales?
R. I don’t know, I can’t assess it, because if I did, it would automatically cause incompatibility to resolve the case from the CSD, therefore I’m not talking about Luis Rubiales’ decision, I’m not in a position to do so. The resignations are personal, he will have to decide if he wants to or not. I have no idea where he stands.
P. Given the damage caused to the image of Spanish sport and the Spain brand, do you think that resigning would help to stanch that damage?
R. I repeat, if I answered that question with a yes or a no, it doesn’t matter what it was, I would be invalidating my impartiality and my possibility to resolve on the process, with which I cannot speak about the resolution of this conflict on the basis whether or not I think the president of the Spanish football federation should resign. What I am clear about are the processes that I have to apply and I am going to do it.
P. You traveled on the plane back from Australia with Rubiales, did you ask him or have you asked him to resign?
R. My function is not that and it should not be because it would violate that minimum impartiality that is required of me. I cannot ask a federation president to resign. What I can do is proceed with the mechanisms provided by law to apply the procedures.
P. However, with the rugby federation, its president was invited to resign after one of the players competed for the team with a false passport.
R. You will have to ask José Manuel Franco; I entered on June 13 and I can speak for myself.
P. Except for the Getafe president and the AFE soccer players union, men’s soccer has been silent for days. UEFA, of which Rubiales is vice president, has not ruled either.
R. I can do the reading that we have done from the Government: condemnation, firmness and determination. I cannot value what others do.
P. Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, is one of Rubiales’ greatest supporters and he has not spoken either. Have you talked to him?
R. Yes, I have spoken to everyone, it is my obligation.
P. And what is your position?
R. You will have to ask yourself, I do not reveal conversations with another person.
P. Aren’t you surprised that it hasn’t manifested itself either?
P. It neither surprises me nor ceases to surprise me, I simply say that if you want to know his position you will have to call him.
P. What would a hypothetical resignation of Luis Rubiales mean?
R. Well, the next day there would have to be a relay and naturally Spanish football would be directed by someone else. It wouldn’t imply anything.
P. But wouldn’t it help to clean up the image?
R. I do not value, tomorrow there is an assembly of the Spanish football federation in which they have to decide where their image is, their interests, what they want, what they need and, from there, we will evaluate. What I have said is that on Monday the CSD begins the files it has to submit to the TAD, regardless of what the assembly decides. And everyone knows that, the federation, the clubs…
P. If the complaints are sent to the TAD and they open a file on Luis Rubiales, the CSD has the power to convene its board of directors and propose that the provisional suspension be voted on until the court decides. Does that contemplate it?
R. Well, I’ll look at it on Monday. We will start a procedure, I live day by day, this Friday there is an assembly, we have to see what happens and we will decide on that. And I repeat, we also have an open file in the federation and we are waiting to receive it and I would like to, because yesterday there was news about the player’s representatives. We have to respect the parties and see what we are talking about.
P. In the case of Ángel María Villar, the CSD did provisionally suspend him.
R. Yes, there were some arrests, there was a legal proceeding that prompted those arrests. I am not saying that I am going to do one thing or the other, simply that each case is each case and I will do what corresponds. What I can say to all citizens is that I will do what corresponds and that no one is going to get rid of answering the questions and their responsibilities.
P. Do you feel that perception that the CSD protects Luis Rubiales because no other complaints have been sent for the espionage of the federation to the president of the soccer players union (AFE), David Aganzo?
R. It was at another time, there was another president of the CSD and I defend his actions. In addition, I will also tell you that this is sub judice, which is not the case now. I say this to be precise and not to attribute to this president of the CSD what does not belong to this president.
P. Rubiales’ gestures have left the success achieved in the background, how do you assess winning the World Cup?
R. There is no turning back, it will never be the same again, neither football nor women’s sports. We have now reached a point where both the commitment that the Government and society as a whole have to make with women’s sport is unstoppable and therefore what the CSD is going to do is maintain it. I want to remember that when nobody was betting, the CSD was betting. When women’s football needed money, the CSD put money in, when no one thought we couldn’t have a choice, the CSD thought we could. And it is not attributable to me because I have just arrived, but there has been a commitment by this Government to women’s sports and it is undeniable and we are super proud of it.
P. When the players demand equal pay in clubs and national teams, is it viable?
R. It is viable to tend to that salary equality, we were in an absolute disparity and right now we are getting closer.
P. What is the line to follow?
R. Regarding the clubs, we give 37 million euros to the Women’s Soccer League and we would like this money to reach the players and not stay by the wayside; And with respect to the federation, what we tell them is that the whole issue of bonuses and aid must tend to be equal to that of men’s soccer. They are the two axes and what we would like.
P. And what answer do you find?
R. The federation has taken important steps, women’s soccer today is not what it is without the federation, with which things must be differentiated. That we have a controversy does not mean that policies have not been carried out well.
P. And regarding the clubs?
R. I would like there to be a more direct transfer of the money that the CSD gives to the players. We have discussed it with the professional women’s league and we hope that they will listen to the reasons that we tell them. I wish there was less structure and more infrastructure. What I am saying is that when the Government has to put more money, I say that we put 37 million euros and the players say that they do not see it and I can assure you that these days I have shared some conversations with them.
P. And what have you learned from those conversations?
R. Well, along the way there is too much structure. This is how we have always defended it. You have to be more attentive to what the players ask for and what the structures ask for. They ask for improvements in the infrastructure and we have invested 17 million in the infrastructure and the players continue to say that they continue to go to fields where soccer cannot be practiced. We need responsibility for the public money that is invested every year in women’s football. It is not fair that it seems that it is not invested.
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