Bad form, Luis.
I was – like a lot of Americans – disappointed with the performance of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Instead it was an underdog Spanish squad that took the World Cup.
However, it’s possible that the thing that people will remember about the 2023 event was not the accomplishment of the team from Spain but the clueless actions of Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish soccer federation.
He was just another sports bureaucrat until – after Spain defeated England in the title game – he grabbed midfielder Jennifer Hermoso and kissed her smack on the lips. He was quoted by one observer as saying “There, we will celebrate the wedding of Jenni and Luis Rubiales.”
It was not his first venture over the line of professionalism. He was seen grabbing his crotch while standing near the 16-year-old daughter of the the Spanish king and queen.
In another episode, he lifted another soccer player Athena del Castillo onto his shoulder and carried her around the pitch like she was a trophy, or perhaps a re-enactment of some prehistoric cave man romance.
Well, it certainly seems as if Rubiales, who was suspended from the soccer federation for his misdeeds, was a few centuries behind the times. Not only is he going to lose some money over this, there is some speculation that the smooch may end up being considered a sexual assault.
Apologists have said, “Hey, it was just a kiss.” That’s true. But kissing someone who – after all – is a sort of employee and who has not signaled interest or consent is definitely taboo in the 21st century.
While I agree that it probably doesn’t rise to the level of what we think of a sexual assault, imagine how you would react if Tommy Lasorda kissed Kirk Gibson on the lips after his famous 1988 World Series home run?
Or if your teenage high school soccer star son or daughter scored the winning goal and got a big wet kiss on the mouth by the coach, male or female?
One good thing that could come out of this is Rubiales gave us all a clear example of what’s off-limits. Or, as they say in soccer, offsides.