‘I have had to suffer the consequences of an act that I did not provoke, choose or consent to. I’ve received threats and you never get used to that.’ A candid Jenni Hermoso looked in GQ back to the kissing incident with Luis Rubiales. The then president of Spain kissed Hermoso on the mouth unsolicited during the celebration of the Spanish world title last summer.
Hermoso admits that she needed professional help to process everything. ‘Having to tell it over and over again hurt me a lot. But I knew I had to let it go somehow. I’m still working on it with the help of my psychologist, who I’ve worked with for many years. For me, mental health is just as important as physical training, as is making sure you get enough hours of sleep. Thanks to her I feel strong and I haven’t been broken or thought about quitting football.’
‘With everything that’s happened, I think many of us have become more aware of what the word ‘feminism’ really means. We, in football, are experiencing a battle for equality from the front lines. They have accused us of being rude. They have always said that our goal was to earn as much as the men, but that is not true. It makes me very angry when they say that women’s football does not generate as much money as men’s football. We know that and I have never asked to earn the same amount. We just want the most basic things: a minimum salary, to be respected and to have the opportunity to do great things in our sport. As soon as those things were more or less completed with the Spanish national team, we became world champions.’
Hermoso believes that out of all the bad, much good can also come. ‘I want to be remembered as someone who tried to reach the top with Spain, but above all someone who tried to change mentalities and minds. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is this story, but I’m going to try to learn from it and use it to fight in a positive way for what I think is good for society. The SeAcabó movement must herald a new era. The past few months, with everything that has happened, have distracted me from football.’
Little support from male colleagues
The public support that Hermoso and the national team players have received has been overwhelming. ‘I am very grateful that so many people were by my side, by our side. Actresses, singers and football players, even opponents of the World Cup. All of that gave me the strength to keep going and think about what I could do best for all of us. There are many colleagues for whom we need to raise our voices.’
Without wanting to stir up controversy, Hermoso regrets that there has not been more support from the male football world.
‘I understand that they think how they think and I would also like to just concentrate on my sport, but when you see unfair situations you have to choose a side. There will be people who hate me or love me, but I have my way of thinking and I’m not afraid to speak out. I don’t know if their support would have made it that much easier, but it certainly would have helped us a lot.”