GENEVA (5 September 2023) – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has welcomed the suspension of Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales from FIFA after he forcibly kissed Spanish football captain Jennifer Hermosa during the Women’s World Cup 2023 award ceremony. The Committee said it was supporting a judicial investigation into Rubiales’ misconduct and warned that the incident highlighted how women, even in the highest echelons of their professions could be subject to inappropriate and abusive actions that amount to gender-based violence. As the biggest women’s single sporting event in history, the Women’s World Cup 2023 was a significant marker in the gender equality debate, sending a strong signal about the need for equal treatment of women and men in public and private life, CEDAW said.
The Committee today issued the following media statement:
“The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) congratulates FIFA and host countries Australia and New Zealand on the successful Women’s World Cup 2023. We commend all teams and particularly congratulate Spain on its win.
WWC23, which ran from 20 July to 20 August 2023, saw record audiences and capacity crowds.
It was the biggest women’s single-sporting event in history with ticket sales smashing the previous Women’s World Cup ticket record of 1.35m set by Canada in 2015.
It represented a tournament of firsts: it was the first in the Southern Hemisphere, the first to be co-hosted by two confederations (AFC and OFC) and the first edition to feature 32 teams (up from 24 teams in 2019).
The Beyond Greatness theme has already created a World Cup legacy, with greater investment in women’s football and an emphasis on gender equality.
The creation of Beyond Greatness Ambassadors – which included CEDAW Member Natasha Stott Despoja AO – provided multiple opportunities to promote gender equality and highlight the diversity and difference in women and girls. In the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights joined forces with FIFA to promote non-discrimination and inclusion. The slogans “Unite for Inclusion” and “No Discrimination” were displayed together with the OHCHR logo on the perimeter advertising boards and featured on the armbands of players during the first matches of the host teams.
The Cup is a significant marker in the gender equality debate, highlighting the expertise of women’s football, the under-explored investment potential of women’s skills and talents in many spheres of life, but also sending a message about the need for equal treatment of women and men in public and private life.
CEDAW notes the ongoing investigation into the actions of Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation and one of UEFA’s vice-presidents. We condemn his forcible kiss of Spanish captain Jennifer Hermosa during the award ceremony. This incident highlights how women – even in the highest echelons of their sectors or professions – can be subject to inappropriate and abusive actions amounting to gender-based violence against women. CEDAW regrets that the empowering signal of the World Cup for women has been overshadowed by such patriarchal behaviour and abuse of power. It endorses Rubiales’ suspension from his post by FIFA and supports a judicial investigation of his misconduct.
We commend FIFA on its five pillars of Women’s Football Strategy: Develop and Grow, Showcase the Game, Communicate and Commercialise, Govern and Lead, and Educate and Empower. The WWC was a tribute to the hard work of many within FIFA and a testimony to the commitment by New Zealand, Australia, and many other countries, to gender equality and women in sports.
In line with article 13 (c) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, we call on FIFA, other sports associations, and all States parties to the Convention to fight sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence against women in the world of sports and continue promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in all their diversity in sports.”