By Sara Guardiola, Socialist Alternative Merseyside
This year’s FIFA Women’s World cup saw record breaking attendance and viewing figures. However, it will be remembered for more than just the thrilling matches on the field. It will be remembered as a battleground for gender equality, equal pay, and a stark reminder of the sexism and abuse that persist.
The victory of the Spanish football team, La Roja, was tarnished by Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation, who sexually assaulted Jenni Hermoso, the captain of the Spanish women’s team, during the awards ceremony.
After Hermoso’s statement: ‘I felt the victim of aggression, a sexist act’, there was an outpouring of international support from fans and athletes. But an arrogant Rubiales refused to resign, even portraying himself as the victim of a “witch-hunt” of “fake feminism”.
Wave of protest
In a powerful display of solidarity more than 80 current and former Spanish football players, including the entire World Cup winning squad, issued a statement through their union, declaring their refusal to play for the national team as long as the current leadership remained in place, demonstrating the power of collective action.
There is a strong tradition of feminist movements in the Spanish State. We saw it in the mass protests in 2018 and 2019 against sexual violence and the misogynistic justice system. And we saw it again after the incident at the World Cup, with protests being called in many cities.
Rubiales has finally resigned, which just goes to show that we can only win when we organise from below and fight back!
For democratic control of football!
The Spanish women’s football team has agreed to resume play after the federation promised “immediate and profound structural changes”. But we can’t expect much of a federation that initially tried to pressure Hermoso into defending Rubiales and even threatened her with legal action for lies and defamation, though a few more heads have rolled since Rubiales’ departure. This is why Socialist Alternative calls for players’ unions and fans’ control over hiring and firing federation employees to democratically address issues of sexism, racism, and LGBTQphobia.
Rubiales’ actions reflect a broader issue stemming from the capitalist system which breeds oppression and exploitation. It enables powerful men like Rubiales or Russell Brand to believe they can get away with anything. We need to get organised and build a socialist feminist movement to fight to end harassment and abuse!
Come to Revolutionary Ideas Socialist Festival!
Suzanne Wrack, sports journalist and award winner for her investigation into abuse at the Afghanistan Football Federation will be speaking at the opening rally of Revolutionary Ideas: Fight the Right Wing Backlash with Socialist Feminism in Liverpool on 11 November. She is the author of ‘A Woman’s Game’, and has written extensively on misogyny in sport, including the Rubiales scandal.
Get your tickets for the event by clicking here!