Spanish football star Jenni Hermoso has spoken about coming out, and about how welcoming the women’s game is for LGBTQ+ players.
The World Cup winner told TV show Planeta Calleja that she did not have to officially come out to her parents, but admits her sexuality was still a “taboo” subject.
Spain’s 1-0 victory over England at the World Cup final in August was overshadowed when Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips without her consent after the game, which thrust the forward into the headlines and the centre of a #MeToo sporting storm.
“I never explicitly told my parents that I liked girls,” Hermoso said. “It is something that has always been taboo, but there was actually no need to discuss it openly: the people around me knew. My parents weren’t stupid.”
Jenni Hermoso won the World Cup with Spain in the summer. (PIrina R. Hipolito/Europa Press via Getty Images)
Hermoso said she has always been “open” with her mum but when that felt difficult, she turned to her Aunt Carol, who she described as her “confidante”.
The women’s game is much more inclusive than the men’s – and male players face a greater backlash over their sexuality, she said.
“In women’s football, it is much easier to come out than in men’s football. There is a stereotypical image of a footballer with a wife and children. There are some male footballers who have come out, but they have been met with a lot of hate. Male footballers are not inclined to talk about it because they are treated differently.
“That player who feels that way does not believe that it is good for his future and they are not going to say it because in men’s soccer it is unlikely that they will treat you in a way that makes you feel good.”
Hermoso, who signed for Mexican club Tigres UANL on 1 January, having played for Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in her home land, as well as for Paris Saint-Germain, went on to say that she is currently single.
“I have been in love, but not right now. It’s one of the best things I’ve discovered: how to live with myself. My private life and my life as a football player have always been closely linked. If I had problems, my football was a disaster. It could be intense, especially if my heart was broken. Now, fortunately, I have found stability.”
Jennifer Hermoso (C) has told a court in Madrid that she did not consent to being kissed by then Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)
Hermoso became the centre of attention following the controversial kiss at the World Cup medal presentation, with Spanish football then coming under intense scrutiny.
In September, she filed an official complaint against Rubiales.
Days later, Rubiales resigned from his role, telling Piers Morgan in an interview that friends advised him to focus on his “dignity and to continue your life, because if not, you are probably going to damage people you love and the sport you love”.
The former football chief, however, has argued that he was the victim of a witch-hunt and that the kiss was the “same I could give one of my daughters”.
Earlier this month, Hermoso appeared at court in Madrid to provide her version of events and described the kiss as “unexpected and at no time consensual”.