Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso played for her country on Friday for the first time since disgraced former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed her during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony.
Hermoso, 33, came on as a second-half substitute for world champions Spain in its Nations League match against Italy in Salerno, after not being selected for games in September by coach Montse Tome to “protect” her.
She questioned Tome’s decision at the time and was subsequently called up last week for the match against Italy and a visit to face Switzerland on Tuesday.
Hermoso, who now plays for Pachuca in Mexico, replaced her former team-mate at Barcelona Mariona Caldentey after 67 minutes with the game goalless.
Hermoso became a symbol in the fight against sexism and earned global support after Rubiales forcibly kissed her on the lips following Spain’s triumph over England in Sydney on August 20, although he says it was consensual.
Rubiales resigned three weeks after the kiss after widespread criticism and has been charged with “sexual assault” by a Spanish court and banned from coming within 200 metres of the player.
Spain’s World Cup winning coach Jorge Vilda was sacked by the Spanish federation in the wake of the scandal at a time dozens of Spain players including Hermoso were on strike, demanding profound changes.
La Roja is aiming to qualify for the 2024 Olympics by reaching the Nations League final.
After victories over Sweden and Switzerland in September, Spain led League A Group 4 going into the Italy match.
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