The Luis Rubiales kiss row continues to rumble on with the coach who guided Spain’s women to World Cup glory just a couple of weeks ago sacked by their Football Association.

Although no specific reason was given for Jorge Vilda’s dismissal, it appears to stem from the fact that he applauded the speech that the embattled FA president gave in the immediate aftermath of kissgate. (You have to wonder what people expected – Rubiales was Vilda’s boss and employer at that moment in time and had just promised him a new contract and a pay rise. He was hardly likely to stand up and start throwing cabbages at the man.)

But anyway, Vilda has gone and he isn’t best pleased.

“I am as well as can be after being fired after being World Champion 10 days ago. I have been fired, I think, unjustly. I have a clear conscience,” he said.

Considering his incredible achievement in guiding his team to the trophy, it is pretty hard to justify Vilda getting the boot on a sporting basis. But then again, the current tidal wave of turmoil washing over Spanish football is much more about bandwagons and power struggles than sporting merit or proportionate punishment.

Sexual abuse? For stupidly kissing someone in the heat of a World Cup victory? Is that really the world any of us want to live in?

A few days ago, the recipient of the allegedly unwanted kiss, Jenni Hermoso, filed a legal complaint against Rubiales. This means that the latter could now face criminal charges, including sexual assault, harassment and even sexual abuse.

Now either my theory of hidden agendas is spot on, or the lunatics are starting to overrun the asylum. Sexual abuse? For stupidly kissing someone in the heat of a World Cup victory? Is that really the world any of us want to live in?

Although I am passionate supporter of the concept of consent, this whole thing is spinning out of control.

Public opinion is a very fickle thing, and while I think it’s fair to say many people had some sympathy for Hermoso in the immediate aftermath of kissgate, there is a line she is in danger of crossing between being the victim and being vindictive.

This sorry saga had the potential to do a lot of good for those advocating equality between the sexes. But it is reaching a point now where this venomous witch-hunt is starting to turn the tide of public opinion in the other direction.


It’s about to get ugly

If the reports are true that the Glazer family has called off the sale of United, things could be about to get very messy in Manchester.

After a long and painfully drawn-out process that started in November, news emerged last week that the owners are, at least temporarily, taking the club off the market.

Co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer have apparently decided to hold out for £10 billion, which is way more than the two current bidders – Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe – have offered. Pretty much double, in fact. And it’s hard to see those guys coming back to the negotiating table after spending the best part of a year jumping through the Glazer’s increasingly tight hoops.

Which is why I fear there could be some serious supporter unrest on the horizon.

United fans have never shied away from expressing their displeasure with the club’s current owners. But they have probably been kept relatively quiet and subdued by the belief that a sale and a fresh start under non-Glazer leadership was on the horizon. With that hope taken away, the simmering resentment and bubbling undercurrent of anger is extremely likely to boil over.

There have been protests in the past, but I think those will pale into insignificance with what’s coming...


The end of the dynamic duo

While it was nice to see three English players nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or, I wouldn’t bother prepping any sort of acceptance speech if I were them.

Why? Because it is blindingly obvious who will be lifting this year’s award. And if there’s one thing he most certainly is not, that’s English.

For Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, having their talents recognised at the highest level will be a massive ego boost. But unless they are excited by the prospect of being there in person to watch Lionel Messi pick up award number eight, they might want to think twice about renting a tux.

Interestingly, this is the first time in 20 years that a young chap called Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t nominated for football’s most prestigious award.

And given that both he and Messi have opted to see out their playing days in lucrative but uncompetitive leagues, these awards will bring the curtain down on their magnifi­cent rivalry.

While it is kind of sad to see an era come to an end, I don’t think the rest of the Ballon d’Or nominees will be too dismayed to see the back of this particular duo...


Greenwood goes Getafe

I received an interesting letter last week from a reader called Peter Murray sharing his thoughts on the Mason Greenwood saga. The gist of it was that, as the player is innocent in the eyes of the law, he should simply be allowed to get on with his life.

While I pretty much agreed with everything Peter said, his note landed on my desk a bit late for last week’s paper, and the story has moved on a bit since then with the Manchester United striker now signing for Getafe on loan.

I’m going to confess I didn’t see Greenwood being able to move on with his career so quickly. I thought he would really struggle to find a club because, wherever he went, there would be angry protests and righteous fury.

Not so in Spain, apparently.

Is that because the Spanish are more tolerant and forgiving of people’s past mistakes? Probably not, based on how the Rubiales saga continues to pan out. Maybe they prefer to go by the letter of the law rather than the court of public opinion.

Who knows? But ultimately, Greenwood has a year at Getafe to put his past behind him and try to rebuild his life.

I tell you what, though, he better be careful while he is there. He may not be under the full glare of the ever-present English media, but there are still plenty of people hoping he makes some sort of error of judgement so they can say they ‘told you so’.

A boozy night out with his teammates or being snapped with an unknown woman while his young family is tucked up at home is all it will take for this can of worms to explode once more.

If he is a wise man, and that remains to be seen at this point, he should keep himself to himself for the next 12 months and let his football do the talking.



Twitter: @maltablade

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