Woody Allen offers staggering defence of Spanish football boss Luis Rubiales

Film director Woody Allen in Cannes (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Film director Woody Allen in Cannes (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Hollywood director Woody Allen has defended Spanish football boss Luis Rubiales who has been internationally condemned for kissing player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup Final.

The president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation has been criticised for kissing the midfielder on the lips as the side collected the World Cup trophy.

A number of high-profile figures have suggested that Rubiales, 46, should resign - with members of his own family saying his actions were wrong.

He has been provisionally suspended by FIFA for an initial period of 90 days, pending an investigation into his behaviour.

Hermoso has said she did not consent to the kiss, and along with her 22 team-mates, has said she will not play for the national team until Rubiales – who has refused to quit – resigns.

But Midnight in Paris director Woody Allen has now defended the football boss - saying while he should apologise to Hermoso, it was “just a kiss” - adding: “He wasn’t raping her.”

The president of the Spanish soccer federation Luis Rubiales speaks during an emergency general assembly meeting last month (AP)
The president of the Spanish soccer federation Luis Rubiales speaks during an emergency general assembly meeting last month (AP)

Over the weekend, the director was at the Venice Film Festival for his 50th movie - Coup de Chance.

In an interview with Spanish-language publication El Mundo, the 87-year-old was asked the scandal, which came after Spain beat England in the final.

“The kiss on the soccer player was wrong, but it did not burn down a school,” Allen said, according to the Mail Online. “He has the duty to apologise and go ahead... They didn’t hide, nor did he kiss her in a dark alley.

“He wasn’t raping her, it was just a kiss and she was a friend. What’s wrong with that?”

The director continued: “In any case, it is difficult to understand that a person can lose their job and be penalised in that way for kissing someone.”

Allen was speaking as members of Rubiales’ family spoke out about the scandal.

 (BBC Sport)
(BBC Sport)

Juan Rubiales López described his nephew as “a man obsessed with power, luxury, money and even women,” in an explosive interview with Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

He added: “I think he needs a social re-education programme and re-education in his relationship with women.

He said the family wanted “to defend Jenni, understand her, and to condemn the embarrassing behaviour of this president.”

Meanwhile, Spain’s men’s national team have condemned the “unacceptable behaviour” of Rubiales.

On Monday, the Spanish men’s team called an impromptu press conference where Alvaro Morata read a statement on behalf of the squad alongside fellow senior captains Marco Asensio, Cesar Azpilicueta and Rodri, which was also released on the Spanish Football Federation website.

Jenni  Hermoso and her team mates during the World Cup (AP)
Jenni Hermoso and her team mates during the World Cup (AP)

“Once in Las Rozas (training base), the national team players want to emphasise several issues regarding recent events that have harmed the image of Spanish football,” the statement read.

“First and foremost, we want to convey, once again, our pride and heartfelt congratulations to the women’s national team for winning the World Cup in Sydney.

“It’s a historic milestone filled with significance that will mark a before and after in Spanish women’s football, inspiring countless women with an invaluable triumph.

“Therefore, we want to express our regret and solidarity with the players whose success has been tarnished.

“We want to reject what we consider unacceptable behaviour on the part of Mr Rubiales, who has not lived up to the institution he represents.

“We firmly and unequivocally stand on the side of the values that this sport represents. Spanish football must be a driving force for respect, inspiration, inclusion, and diversity and must set an example with its behaviour both on and off the field.

“Starting today, we face a crucial training camp for the future of Spanish football on our path to qualify for Euro 2024 with two matches against Georgia and Cyprus.

“We would like to focus on sporting matters from now on, considering the importance of the challenges ahead.”

Rubiales initially responded to criticism of him by saying those who condemned his actions are “idiots.” In a later statement, he accepted he had “made mistakes” and would “learn from this” but repeated his belief that the kiss was consensual. He has said “I will continue to defend myself to prove the truth” and has repeatedly refused to resign.