Machirulo in Spain is a man who boasts of being undisguisedly macho, and is generally used in a derogatory sense. In Chile, the word used is machito. Luis Rubiales, the suspended president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has confirmed in every performance the well-earned title of “king of the machirulos” or “the king of the machitos”.
The first declarations with insufficient explanations were not enough, nor was an institutional declaration quoting Jennifer Hermoso, the victim, with words that had not been uttered by her. While the criticism and requests for resignation were mounting, he made a speech that will go down in the annals of how to be crowned king of the machirulos or machitos.
Rubiales is well aware of the patriarchal culture in Spanish football institutions and the atmosphere he would find in the RFEF’s Extraordinary Assembly to address his case. That is why in his speech he assumes the role of victim, accusing: “false feminism, which is a great scourge in this country (Spain)”. Not surprisingly, he was applauded by most of the men present and only one woman, who was probably his daughter or mother.
Football today is sexist, with expressions that are manifested from the school ambit onwards. Daily critical observation is enough to confirm this, but we have also confirmed it in Fundación Semilla’s study on violence in school contexts. Using the ethnographic method, we were able to observe that school recreational spaces commonly known as “multicanchas” are occupied by men who monopolise the space by playing a game of pichanga football, while women occupy secondary spaces.
As a good machirulo, Rubiales uses, according to the text, patriarchal codes. He explains that there is no desire and that it was like “kissing his daughter”, but they say nothing about a woman’s body being inviolable whether or not she is his relative. By pointing to false feminism, he implicitly wants to convey that there is a “good” one of which he is a supporter, but says nothing about the fact that Spanish female football players had to go on strike to get, in 2019, a base salary of 16,000 euros and one month a year of paid holidays.
Passing off discrimination as natural or divine situations is inherent to patriarchy. Rubiales makes this clear throughout his speech, in which he points out that the kiss was consensual, in a situation of euphoria, that they are a family with the players, and that he respects her and is proud of her despite having missed a penalty kick.
In Chile we are not very far from what happens in Spain. The sporting ambit is still a male domain: on the pitch, in the dressing room, in the media, in the stands, in sports journalism, in public policy. There are plenty of examples: Martina Weil did not run the 200 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest because the national federation did not register her. Christiane Endler, on the other hand, is considering her continuity in the national team if the changes that women’s football requires are not made.
Cultural changes do not happen quickly, but processes are important and, above all, public signals. That is why the Rubiales case is so important. A new example that can be taken to the classroom to develop the critical thinking of students.