By Andrew Aris, Spirit of Football
Did you feel conflicted watching Spain win the World Cup on August 20th? I did. I was cheering for Spain’s incredible tiki-taka style of passing football that I just can’t help but love. At the same time, having heard of the macho background of a catalogue of decisions made by Spain’s Football Association, I found myself not really wanting to see Spain win. It reminded me of arriving in Brazil in time for the start of the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup: It should have been the greatest World Cup ever but incredible levels of corruption polarized a nation that needed hospitals and schools and not white elephant stadiums and hotels.
But back to Spain and the FIFA Women’s 2023 World Cup Final. Rebecca Sowden, ex New Zealand Football Ferns reflected: “Imagine in your work place if 50% of your staff raised welfare issues about their Manager, & instead of concern you were met with dismissal & threats of being fired unless you fall in line. Add to that, the person fronting that stance and who reportedly didn’t truly believe in women’s football, Luis Rubiales, yip that guy celebrating on the podium like no other then KISSES captain, Jenni Hermoso on the LIPS.” He then called other people “idiots” for remarking on the incredible inappropriateness of this act. PS, did you also see his crotch-grab celebration from the stands?
It was a deserved win for Spain, the best footballing team at the World Cup. But Rebecca Sowden asks “was it a win for WOMEN IN football?” The World Cup has undoubtedly been a win for Women’s football and for football as a whole. It was an epic tournament, with full stadiums, massive TV audiences and tremendous high quality competitive football. It has also brought light to the lack of investment in the Women’s game and a macho football culture that controls and restricts its development around the world. Successes of several World Cup teams (Nigeria, Jamaica, Spain and others) have come despite a lack of support from their respective associations.
Rebecca Snowden asks:
Can we revisit the sobering treatment of players, & look to dismantle the historic systems that continue to hurt WOMEN IN football so we never have to feel uneasy about a magnificent team taking top prize again?
It can begin with more women in leadership positions in the game. People like Sarai Bareman Chief Women’s Football Officer at FIFA. She signed The Ball after full time, pitch-side, in Sydney at Stadium Australia and pledged to continue to use her platform to fight for Gender Equality.
It was fitting that the last signature on The Ball on that night came from Aitana Bonmati, the winner of the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament. It is fitting too that news is breaking that Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish F.A. is set to resign from his position. The pressure on him has ramped up in the last several days, with FIFA disciplinary committee and the Spanish F.A. investigating him, Fifpro (the world players’ union) caling for action to be taken, accusations of further inappropriate behaviour, and the Prime Minster of Spain and many others calling for his resignation. So this rude and crude misogynist act, whilst taking the limelight away from Spain’s deserved World Cup victory may well lead to the beginning of the structural change in football that we need to see in Spain and hopefully, step by step, all around the world.