Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales' mother should have brought him up to behave better - Christa Ackroyd
So much so I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall and yes, like many teenagers longing for that first romantic kiss, I did practice on the back of my hand or better still wearing my mum’s lipstick on the bathroom mirror.
And to all my female readers please tell me you did the same, in order that I don’t feel quite so weird looking back.
I longed for someone to send me a letter (remember those) signed with S.W.A.L.K… or Sealed With A Loving Kiss. They never did.
And yes I remember my first ever proper kiss on a youth club trip to London with the son of a Guernsey tomato grower called Ray, whom I promised to keep in touch with but never did either.
I also vividly recall another school trip to the capital walking round and round Rodin’s marbled entwined lovers completely entranced by The Kiss purchased in the 1950s after a public appeal by The Tate to save it for the nation.
And don’t get me started on Gustav Klimt’s famous heavenly gilded painting of the same name which was one of the first prints I ever had on my wall and which I saw in the flesh and still marvelled at when I turned the corner in Italy to find it on the wall of a travelling exhibition only a few years ago.
Then there are famous kisses of later generations that tell their own story.
Kisses on royal balconies called for by the crowds after fairytale Royal weddings and the famous head turned away missed kiss by Prince Charles to Princess Diana at a polo match which signalled that their marriage was in trouble.
From Romeo’s final kiss with what he believed was his dead star-struck lover Juliet to Superman’s iconic upside down kiss with Mary Jane in Superman, from Brezhnev and Honecker’s famous Kremlin kiss recreated as an anti communist symbol on the Berlin wall to the Victory in Japan day smacker given by an American sailor to dental nurse Greta Zimmer in Times Square, even the cartoon spaghetti snog of Lady and the Tramp or Prince Charming to Sleeping beauty, kisses are celebrated the world over. Well, not all of them.
Of course as time change and we got all more ‘kissy kissy’ there was always the unwanted or awkward kiss which I have never got to grips with, if you excuse the turn of phrase.
I never enjoyed a huge New Year party not because it signalled the end of another year but because it seemingly gave drunken people, particularly drunken men, the right to slobber all over you on the supposed grounds of tradition.
And as for the air kiss, so beloved in the world of telly, to this day I do not know whether to offer one cheek or two, or which side to turn first.
In fact a standard joke in TV world where the whole process often extends to not one but three kisses is that it is merely a lengthy distraction during which the giver tries to remember your name.
Of course you know me well and so you know exactly where this is leading to. That kiss.
The one which has got the world talking these past couple of weeks when the President of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales grabbed player Jenni Hermoso by the head, pulled her towards him, and planted a kiss firmly on her lips. As for his mother locking herself inside a church and going on hunger strike in support of him keeping of his job, get a grip woman. That merely brings to mind the most famous kiss in Christianity when Judas betrayed Jesus after The Last Supper, which it should have also been immediately for your son. She should have brought him up to behave better.
This is not a fuss about nothing. But I am almost glad it happened. Because never has there been a more important kiss for women the world over.
The kiss on the lips was out of order. The claims that it was consensual absurd. Even if the President did ask for a peck, which would have been so different to planting a whopper on the lips, what could Hermoso do? Say no to ‘the boss’ and pull focus on her team’s celebrations. And that is the issue here. She was powerless to complain in the moment. And that is bullying. Fortunately the world over enough women reacted on her behalf.
That day Rubiales had already grossly grabbed his crotch in front of the Queen as the final whistle blew. And that tells you all you need to know about the attitude of the man.
That and the fact he described those who called him out every name under the sun from idiots to ‘false feminists’ whatever they are, so proving just what kind of a man he is and why there is no place for those like him in any walk of life. That he refused to not only resign but even to apologise and went instead on the attack proves why he should have been removed immediately.
That the Spanish Federation at first to a man – and they were mostly men - applauded and cheered his ‘I will not resign’ speech has shown them up for what they are too.
It has been said that the debate about this kiss has somehow pulled focus away from the Spanish team’s historic victory. No it hasn’t. It has highlighted just what they have had to put up with. And what women still have to put up with today in all walks of life. Sexist rubbish.
We are not talking about a doddery old man here who comes from another generation who should have learnt how to behave along the way but didn’t. This was an own goal of spectacular proportions. The president of the Spanish Football Federation is 46 years old. He has daughters. He has seen his women’s team lift not just this World Cup, but his junior girl’s sides win equally impressive victories this past year. And still he had neither the good grace or humility to admit he got it so wrong.
The whole team was already at the centre of a dispute because of their coach’s ‘management skills’ which led to 15 of the nation’s best players being dropped for the World Cup. That the same coach took a whole week to describe the kiss as both ‘a real nonsense’ but the behaviour ‘inappropriate’ tells me a lot about him too. In my book it can’t be both .
The team and the world stood strong. They refused to play, the coaches stood down en masse and FIFA suspended the President. And the women’s game or more importantly the game they were forced to play off the pitch is at the forefront of conversation. And that can’t be all bad.
One final word. Perhaps it is time to remind El Présidente and the dinosaurs that applauded him that he presides over the Royal Football Federation and in the not too distant future his monarch will be a woman. King Felipe has two daughters the oldest of which, Eleanor, will be his Queen. And won’t that be fun?
To the Spanish team I say Bravo or rather Brava which is the world in Spanish reserved for women. You have done more than lift a football trophy. You have galvanised the world on your behalf. And taught a silly arrogant man and others like him what they can and can’t get away with. And that in years to come will perhaps be your greatest victory.