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Letter from Spain #19
Spanish machismo ... plus TBC notes & research
How is it possible? How can you go from being the president of Spain’s Football Federation whose team won the Women’s World Cup this time last week, to having a growing #MeToo movement in Spain (who you call ‘false feminists’) demanding your resignation, to having politicians and top international athletes requesting your suspension for serious misconduct, to having proceedings opened against you by your country’s Superior Sports Council (CSD) and the Administrative Court of Sport (TAD), to having FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee provisionally suspending you ‘from all soccer-related activities at national and international level’, to having all your current squad members refusing to play for their country again while you’re still the boss, to having all 11 members of the team’s coaching staff (except the coach himself) resign in solidarity with the players, to having a ban on making any further contact (by you or your federation) with the player, Jenni Hermoso - who you forcibly kissed on the lips during last week’s awards ceremony while gripping her head in your hands, after also grabbing your testicles while standing alongside the Spanish queen and her teenage daughter … how can all this be happening and you still think you’ve done nothing wrong?
Come on - how is it possible? The answer, of course, is Spanish machismo. Arrogance. Aggressive pride. Toxic masculinity. Misogyny.
Yes, sure enough, there’s only one story that’s dominated the headlines in Spain this week. It’s dominated a few headlines internationally, too, alongside three other machos - Trump’s mugshot, Putin and Prigozhin’s plane ‘crash’. It’s Luis Rubiales … Spanish machismo.
The story has been moving so quickly all week that by the time you read this, who knows, Rubiales himself might have finally seen the light and resigned - although I doubt it very much. But whatever report you read (and here are just three from the online newspaper I launched a few years ago - RFEF threatens to sue protesting female players - Top players say ‘unacceptable’ after Spain’s football chief refuses to quit over kiss - ‘Harassment, assault … denigrating Spanish sport’), the crux of the whole story all comes down to the same thing: Spanish machismo.
Finally, however, it seems that enough people have had enough of it … in the same way that a good part of the electorate showed on 23 July that they’ve had enough of the far-right Vox party, too.
Jenni Hermoso’s statement on Friday said she’d felt vulnerable and a victim of a sexist act.
‘I felt vulnerable and a victim of aggression, an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part. In short, I wasn’t respected,’ she wrote.
Spain has seen many protests in recent years condemning Spanish machismo and the failure of the justice system to protect women - with the famous ‘wolf-pack’ case being the most prominent. Gender and equality have also become a major battleground in the country’s politics.
Up to now, Luis Rubiales has survived accusations of embezzlement as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF); he’s survived complaints for using the money from the federation to pay for orgies, or for allegedly allowing third parties to benefit illegally. But it’s Spain’s feminism movement - thank God - that will finally get rid of Luis Rubiales - and hopefully the likes of any future “Rubiales’s”.
The Barcelona Connection - Research
For those of you following this blog’s research and the locations behind The Barcelona Connection, here are some notes about Officer Marta Soler visiting the offices of La Vanguardia in Chapter 16 …
Soler had often visited La Vanguardia, as a close friend had once been a crime correspondent for the paper. She knew the ground floor security guards, too, because as part of Vizcaya’s abduction and extortion squad, she’d spent time at the British Consulate on the thirteenth-floor of the same building, after a young child went missing on the Costa Brava during a family holiday …
OK, here’s a weird thing. Many years ago, in September 1987, aged 27, I turned up at La Vanguardia’s offices when they were still in the Carrer del Pelai, just off the Plaça del Catalunya. I met with Lluís Foix, at the time the foreign editor. I was still employed by Condé Nast in London at the time, but was on holiday (on my own) in Sitges, and as I’d fallen in love with Spain I wondered if I could possibly find work over here.
Lluís Foix appreciated my approach, but said that because I didn’t speak Spanish (let alone any Catalan), it would be very difficult for me to find a job, at least in journalism or publishing. What he did say, however, was that Spanish magazines were always looking for stories from the UK, and that perhaps I could start by sending over articles that way, while learning Spanish (which I did). Anyway, I’m not going to write more about this specific episode here, as it will all be in a future sequel to A Load of Bull - but just to say that in 2007 - so, 20 years after that meeting with Sr. Foix - I found myself working full-time at Grupo Godó’s La Vanguardia offices at Diagonal 477, on the corner of Francesc Macià square.
I had a great job (at least it started great), running Prisma Publicaciones, jointly owned by Grupo Godó and Grupo Planeta (more about all that in a sequel to A Load of Bull, too), and I was responsible for a number of newsstand magazines, as well as many supplements for La Vanguardia.
So I mention all this because for several years I had many different meetings in many different offices of the newspaper and with its editors and owners, and I also got to know (and became friends) with two different British Consuls from the 13th floor during my time there. I still know a couple of the ground floor security guards, too - they’re great guys - and they still greet me as if I still work there, whenever I visit the building.
While working there and plotting the book, I was even helped by a crime correspondent on the paper (who will remain unamed) with my research. He also gave me an invaluable insight into the structure of the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, as well as all the security protocols that would kick into place on several issues that take place in The Barcelona Connection …
Next week, Chapter 18 and my research from Nîmes …
Previous links to my research notes are here:
The Barcelona Connection - Reviews, News & Events
Now just a month away, on Thursday 28 September I’m doing an event at The Secret Kingdoms bookstore in Madrid, chatting about The Barcelona Connection and A Load of Bull with Ann Louise Bateson, radio producer, former BBC contributor and presenter of the English language programme, ‘Madrid Live’.
Drinks and snacks will also be served, and although the event is free, places will be limited - so if you’re interested in coming along, then it would be wise to reserve your place by clicking on this Eventbrite link. It will be a fun evening and I hope to see you there!
Another date for the diary, this time in Barcelona. On Saturday 28 October at 2.30pm, I will be participating in a roundtable discussion hosted by Barcelona City Council for their annual International Community Day, with the topic being ‘Discovering & Enjoying Barcelona through Literature’. The event will take place at the Museu Marítim de Barcelona. More details in due course.
As soon as I have news about a possible event at The Salvador Dalí Museum in Florida, I will post details about it here.
Links to reviews & articles
Here’s the link for a review of The Barcelona Connection that came out in La Revista, a publication of the British-Spanish Society.
Here’s a link to a review of the book published by the Spain in English online newspaper.
Here’s the link to an article I was asked to write for The Art Newspaper about my research on Salvador Dalí.
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