“The kiss with Jenni? There are idiots all over. When two people have a moment of affection without any importance, we can’t listen to idiocy,” said Royal Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales, who kissed star player Jenni Hermoso on the mouth after a victory without her consent.
Last month on Aug. 20, the Spanish women’s soccer team won the Women’s World Cup in Sydney, Australia, beating England, 1-0, in the final. Immediately after the match, while greeting and congratulating the players he kissed various players on the cheeks, threw one over his shoulder, and then kissed Hermoso on the lips (this wasn’t a European peck on the cheek either). While celebrating Spain’s success, he also grabbed his crotch while standing near Spanish Queen Letizia and 16-year-old Princess Sofía.
Calls grew for Rubiales’s removal from his position, FIFA temporarily suspended him for 90 days, players protested, and the coaching staff resigned for the women’s team. As a result of the public outcry, he apologized in a video statement. At the end of the apology, he added, “We saw something natural, normal…if there are people who have felt offended, I have to say I’m sorry.”
Rubiales announced his resignation on Sept. 10.
Victor Francos, Spain’s top sports official, called it the “Me Too” moment for football in the country. The player, Jennifer Hermoso, filed a criminal complaint of sexual assault against him. This incident is systemic and not special to just Spain.
Spain is not an isolated case. Reports of sexual misconduct have plagued the women’s game with complaints coming from the last few years alone. Recently, FIFA announced it was investigating Zambian coach Bruce Mwape who has been accused of rubbing his hands over the chest of one of his players days before the team's historic victory over Costa Rica.
It’s unfortunate that Spain’s players have to continue fighting for basic respect when all they should be doing is celebrating this accomplishment. This incident reflects a deeply rooted problem in how we respect the dignity and rights of all individuals. Removing ‘people of power’ will not prevent this from happening again. Rubiales can be removed, but what’s stopping another guy to replace him in a few months?
Real change means fixing the structures that educate and elevate these kind of people. “Ghadd-e-basr” (lowering the gaze) provides a robust and well-founded framework for catalyzing this transformation. Ghadd-e-basar, a Islamic teachings relating to themes of modesty, self-control, and purity of heart, can promote values relevant to discussions about such issues
Explaining Ghadd-e-basar, the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, states:
‘One ought to save themselves by keeping their eyes half open and turning away from that which is impermissible and only looking at that which is permissible. This is known in Arabic as ghadd-e-basar. ‘It does not behove a pious person who desires to keep his heart pure that he should lift his eyes freely in every direction like an animal. This is the quality which is called chastity in Islam.’
Rubiales’s behavior was a violation of personal boundaries and a lack of respect for the players' physical autonomy. Ghadd-e-basar encourages individuals to be mindful of their actions and to not engage in behaviors that make others uncomfortable or violate their personal space. Hermoso described the actions of Rubiales as an “impulse-driven, sexist out of place act without any consent.” The incident highlights the dignity and respect owed to the players, as well as to Spanish Queen Letizia and Princess Sofía.
Ghadd-e-basar emphasizes the importance of respecting the dignity of others and treating them with honor and respect. Therefore, people need to keep their hands, leers, and cat calls to themselves as it denigrates another human being’s dignity. It is essential to emphasize the importance of respecting the autonomy and bodily integrity of others, and the importance of consent. Ultimately, this incident serves as a reminder of the importance of ethical conduct and respect for others in the field and beyond.