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Spain soccer legend Jenni Hermoso speaks publicly about her sexuality for the first time

Hermoso says she felt talking about being gay was “always taboo” as she opens up on Spanish TV show “Planeta Calleja”.

Italy v Spain - UEFA Women’s Nations League
Jenni Hermoso celebrates scoring for Spain against Italy in a UEFA Women’s Nations League match in Salerno in October.
Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Jenni Hermoso, who last year helped Spain win their first Women’s World Cup, has said in a TV interview that she was sure that “people knew” she liked girls, even if the subject was taboo.

The 33-year-old has won more than 100 caps for her country and sparked a “Me Too” movement in both women’s sport and wider society after she was kissed forcibly on the lips by Spanish FA chief Luis Rubiales during the medal ceremony at the World Cup final in Sydney.

Now playing her club football at Mexican club Tigres, Hermoso is the latest guest on TV travel show “Planet Calleja,” joining its host Jesus Calleja in Iceland where she was interviewed about her career.

Asked by Calleja about her dating life, Hermoso explains that she is not currently in a relationship.

“I have been in love, but not right now,” she says. “It’s one of the best things I’ve discovered — how to live with myself.”

Hermoso has been romantically linked in the past with former teammates, including at Barcelona where she won five domestic league titles across two separate spells as well as the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2021.

She ended up leaving Barca in June 2022, moving to Mexico to sign for Pachuca, and alluded to past complications in her relationships.

“I mixed my personal life and football. If something happened in my personal life, I was a disaster on the pitch,” she says.

“It could be intense, especially if my heart was broken. Now fortunately, I have found stability.”

Hermoso was born and raised in Madrid and made her senior debut for Atletico at the age of just 14. She later moved to another club in the Spanish capital — Rayo Vallecano — and made her national-team debut in 2012 at the age of 22.

She says conversations about sexuality were avoided when she was growing up and she suggested that is still the case today in Spain.

“I’ve never openly said that I like girls. It’s something that was always taboo, but I’ve never needed to discuss it. People knew.

“My parents weren’t stupid either. I’ve always been open with my mother, but when I had difficulty with that, I turned to my aunt Carol, who was my confidante.”

At the World Cup, Spain had four players in their squad — Alba Redondo, Irene Paredes, Ivana Andres and Teresa Abelleira — who were publicly out when the tournament began, having either spoken in the media about their sexuality or been open on social media.

Since the tournament, Esther Gonzalez — who scored the winning goal for NJ/NY Gotham FC in their NWSL Championship Game victory in November — has also shared images of herself on Instagram alongside her girlfriend, Estefania Cruz.

However, there has never been a Spanish men’s player at the elite level to have come out publicly.

In 2015, referee Jesus Tomillero came out as gay but subsequently stepped away from officiating while Marbella FC goalkeeper Alberto Lejarraga, who plays in the fourth-tier Segunda B division, has in recent months confirmed he is in a relationship with his boyfriend, Ruben Fernandez.

Hermoso recognizes the challenges that her male counterparts who are gay or bisexual still face.

“In women’s football, it is much easier to come out than in men’s football,” she says. “There is a stereotypical image of a footballer with a wife and children.

‘There are some male footballers who have come out, but they have been met with a lot of hate.

“Male footballers are not inclined to talk about it because they are treated differently.”