Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal refuses to back Jenni Hermoso when asked to weigh in on ‘kiss-gate’ scandal and insists ‘there are people who will decide if there is a victim’… after Spain squad condemned Luis Rubiales
- Spain men’s team issued a statement calling Rubiales’ behaviour ‘unacceptable’
- The federation opted to sack ally Jorge Vilda following months of player protests
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off
Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal refused to back World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso when questioned about the nonconsensual kiss given to the player by suspended RFEF president Luis Rubiales, saying that it was not for him to say whether Hermoso was a victim of sexual assault.
Rubiales has not yet resigned from Spanish football’s governing body but has been handed a three-month ban from the sport by FIFA, with Mail Sport revealing that the organisation will be pushing for a 15-year ban for the official.
A statement from the federation – now helmed by interim boss Pedro Rocha – dubbed his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final ‘totally unacceptable’ and at the start of the international break, Spain’s men’s football team shared their own statement on Rubiales’ conduct.
In a missive that Carvajal put his name too, the side stated that Rubiales had ‘not lived up to the institution he represents’.
But the 31-year-old was more reticent on the subject of Hermoso herself when questioned by reporters ahead of Spain’s 2024 Euro qualifying tie against Georgia on Friday, urging focus back onto the upcoming match and keen to ‘sidestep’ additional questions.
Luis Rubiales gave Jenni Hermoso what she has described as a nonconsensual kiss at the presentation after the World Cup final
Her compatriot Dani Carvajal refused to be drawn on whether she was a victim of sexual assault ahead of Spain’s qualifiers
‘We jointly issued the statement to make it clear from the first moment, and focus purely on sports in the Georgia game’, the defender told Onda Cero. ‘We all prepared the statement in which we were all comfortable and good, in accordance with what happened.
‘What we reject is what I say, those inopportune gestures of the president. It’s a shame that the world title (is) diminished or overlaps because it is a very important feat for our football. It has not been good for the image of Spanish sport.’
When questioned on whether he would be comfortable with Rubiales kissing him without consent by Spanish outlet Relevo, Carvajal said: ‘I will sidestep that question. Don’t know. I come here to play, to be available and help the team to qualify for Euro 2024.
‘Given what it means to be the president of a Federation… we are players who are called up and they call us for the performance in our clubs.’
In a statement released last week, Hermoso clarified that ‘at no time did (she) consent to the kiss’, adding: ‘I don’t tolerate that my word is questioned, much less that words are invented that I haven’t said.’
Dozens of her team-mates have since gone on strike, and put their names to a statement in support of Hermoso, as have England’s Lionesses.
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Head coach Sarina Wiegman dedicated her UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year award to the Spanish national team in the wake of Hermoso’s statement, and Women’s Player of the Year Aitana Bonmati took a stand in support of her national team-mate.
But Carvajal opted not to take a direct position on the matter, continuing: ‘We in the statement admit that the president’s behaviour is not appropriate and what you consider a victim, in your question that you are asking me, in the end there are legal entities that are considering whether Jennifer is really a victim of something, which is a process that is underway. In the end, and after all, we stay out of it.
‘I already told you that there are people who have to decide if there is guilt or a victim. Well, they will make that known.
‘So we cannot position ourselves or condemn one party or another beforehand without knowing what has really happened, what has been stipulated, because to this day Jennifer has not filed the complaint either.’
In Spain, the Sports Administrative Tribunal (TAD) has opened a case against the 46-year-old, but it is for ‘serious’, rather than ‘very serious’ misconduct.
By contrast, Carvajal’s national team-mate Borja Iglesias has taken a more outspoken position in the wake of Rubiales’ conduct, making himself unavailable for selection in protest.
Hermoso has received widespread support from team-mates and peers alike (pictured with former coach Jorge Vilda)
Carvajal’s national team-mate Borja Iglesias has not made himself available for national team selection in protest of Rubiales’ conduct
Vilda (left, with Rubiales) was sacked as Spain’s head coach on Tuesday afternoon after months of player protests
The Real Betis striker said that he would not return to the side until ‘things change’, to ensure that ‘this type of act does not go unpunished’ in a curt statement posted to X (formerly Twitter).
In his most recent public statement, Rubiales remained defiant that he was being subject to an ‘unprecedented political and media lynching’.
Within the federation, the RFEF hierarchy moved to sack one of Rubiales’ allies, women’s head coach Jorge Vilda, following months of protests from members of the playing team, and a meeting with the regional presidents’ committee last week.
Following Spain’s World Cup win, all 11 members of Vilda’s coaching staff resigned in support of Hermoso – former assistant Montserrat ‘Montse’ Tome has been appointed as his successor.
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