The two-time Women’s World Cup champion told the “Today” show this week that the Spanish players should continue “to really support each other” as they boycott play in response to the actions of Luis Rubiales, the Royal Spanish Football Federation president, who kissed player Jennifer Hermoso on the lips while celebrating her team’s World Cup victory this month.
“I think that’s one of their strengths, is their unity,” Hamm said.
The Aug. 20 kiss marred Spain’s first Women’s World Cup title and sparked an outcry that Rubiales initially dismissed as “idiocy.” Hermoso defended him at the time for his “natural gesture of affection,” but later claimed she was pressured to do so.
“I feel obliged to report that Mr. Luis Rubiales’ words explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false,” Hermoso wrote Friday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Rubiales told the federation on Friday that he “won’t resign” because of “false feminists” and their witch hunt over a supposedly “mutual” kiss. In response, Hermoso, her 22 teammates and 59 other Spanish players announced they won’t play for Spain if he stays on.
Players from Spain's Barcelona and Mexico's Club América teams hold a shirt Tuesday before a friendly match in Mexico City that translates to: "Jenni, for you and for all of us."
Hamm urged the players to stay strong.
“They’re going to find ways to divide you, but they know what the right thing to do is,” Hamm told “Today.” “They know why they’re fighting and stay committed to that and to each other.”
Rubiales was officially suspended by FIFA on Saturday and removed from his post for 90 days “pending the disciplinary proceedings” against him. Spanish federal prosecutors announced Monday that they have opened an investigation into the incident.
The potential charge for his “alleged crime of sexual aggression” would allow Hermoso to sue Rubiales. Meanwhile, Rubiales’ mother, Ángeles Béjar, locked herself in a church and announced a hunger strike to protest the “inhumane hounding” of her son.
Hamm, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and her teammates were instrumental in fighting for equal pay and more humane working conditions in U.S. women’s soccer during her time playing for the national team from 1987 to 2004. Player solidarity ultimately resulted in an equal pay deal from U.S. Soccer — in May 2022.
Hamm’s support for Hermoso was clear from the beginning. “Contigo,” Hamm wrote on Twitter last week, which translates to “with you.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.