TAOS Extends Support To Jenni Hermoso, Spain’s Women’s National Football Team

Michigan (Sept 6, 2023) -The Army of Survivors stands with and supports Jenni Hermoso and Spain’s Women’s National Football Team. The ongoing mistreatment by Luis Rubiales, Jorge Vilda, and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) prior to and following the public harassment of Hermoso following Spain’s Women’s World Cup win on August 20, 2023 demonstrates a toxic and abusive culture. Rubiales’ non consensual kiss of Jenni Hermoso, inappropriate grabbing of his own genitalia, and the rash of misleading and abusive comments from Rubiales have underscored the importance of supporting survivors and ending abuse in sport. The reports of abuse and harassment at the hands of both Rubiales and Vilda should have immediately started a trauma-informed and unbiased investigation to support athletes. The ongoing suggestion that athletes are somehow at fault for the abuse they suffered is a classic form of exercising power and control over survivors through victim-blaming (blaming the victims for the harm that happened to them, instead of holding those who caused the harm accountable).

Any pressure put on Hermoso to make public statements, attempts to usurp her story and experience, and histories of reported abusive coaching practices prove the need for further intervention by UEFA, FIFA, and sponsors. These systemic failures highlight the need for accountability for both the individuals and the organizations that have supported abusive behaviors and may be continuing to try to control Hermoso’s narrative.

Although FIFA is investigating the assault and have suspended Rubiales and the RFEF have fired Vilda and apologized; clear processes of abuse reporting processes, adherence to codes of conduct, and prevention abuse strategies would have provided better options and protections for players trapped in toxic abusive sports environments. 

Multiple players reported and refused to play for Spain at the World Cup but these complaints were largely ignored and no immediate steps were made to intervene and protect players. If taken seriously, investigations and suspensions could have occurred prior to the tournament to protect the players. We encourage the investigators to practice institutional courage and conduct a transparent, trauma-informed investigation that will lead to creating sustainable changes that create a safe work environment for players whilst ensuring perpetrators and enablers of the abuse are held accountable. Now is the time to make trauma-informed investigations the standard for all sports federations, worldwide. All sports investigations need to be trauma-informed, consent-driven, and provide support for survivors and witnesses of abuse.

TAOS Executive Director Julie Ann Rivers-Cochran stated, “Incidents such as these reflect the urgency for reform within the culture of sport. They also emphasize the importance of consent and the need for clear boundaries that protect the well-being and dignity of players.” We call on the federations and investigators to act swiftly and ensure that athletes are provided safe environments free of abuse, bigotry, and misogyny.

#ContigoJenni #SeAcabo

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Sport has the potential to be a catalyst for human development, unity, and freedom, but too often it instead brings harm to its athletes, fans, and communities. We exist to uncover and rectify the many abuses that exist both in and around sport. We aim to transform sports into an authentic force for good.