Esther Gonzalez — fresh off winning the Women’s World Cup with Spain — was upset that the unwanted kiss forced on one of her teammates overshadowed and undercut what should have been a joyous occasion.
But Gotham FC’s newest star was at least glad the perpetrator was forced to step down.
“Yes, it’s upsetting,” Gonzalez said at her Gotham unveiling Thursday evening in Hudson Yards, ahead of Saturday’s match at Red Bull Arena against the Washington Spirit. “It’s a big task and difficult to win a World Cup, and it is upsetting that took some of the attention off it all.
“But it says we will move on, and eventually you all kind of understand the situation and what happened. And so we just focused on what’s ahead and let it go kind of thing to be honest about it.”
The diminutive forward has 26 goals for Spain, leading them in qualifying and scoring versus Costa Rica at the Women’s World Cup.
She captained them to their first title, but it’s one she and her teammates should’ve gotten to savor more.
Esther Gonzalez celebrates with the official trophy after winning the Women’s World Cup 2023 Final game between Spain and England.SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
It was Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales’ unwanted kiss on player Jennifer Hermoso that stole the headlines, something players have said they were “angry” over.
Count Gonzalez among them.
Despite weeks of fierce criticism, Rubiales defiantly refused to step down until finally acquiescing on Sunday, saying he “won’t contribute anything positive” to RFEF or Spanish soccer if he stayed on.
That’s an opinion Gonzalez shares.
“It’s something we were all waiting for,” Gonzalez said via an interpreter at Mercado Little Spain. “But at the same time, I’m trying to focus on what’s going on here and focus on Saturday and bringing it home and giving it my all.”
Gotham FC — which counts Carli Lloyd and Sue Bird as minority owners — has lofty goals of becoming the epicenter for women’s soccer.
They sit fifth in the tight NWSL standings but just three points adrift of table-topping San Diego.
Adding a player like Gonzalez can only help.
The World Cup kiss that has since become infamous.Fox Sports
Gonzalez noted the work still needing to be done back in Spain regarding equal treatment for women and female athletes.
“Here upon arriving, [I] noticed all the players have a say, and there’s a lot of importance given to every player,” Gonzalez said. “And there’s a lot of fight [for] that [with what] they’ve gone through in Spain. That’s happening. There’s always a lot of room to grow. There’s a lot to go. But really it’s just kind of a fight that has to continue over there at the end of the day.”
Over 80 Spanish soccer players inked a letter supporting Hermoso, saying they wouldn’t return to the national team “if the current leaders continue.”
Esther Gonzalez chasing down the ball in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Semi Final match between Spain and Sweden.Getty Images
Coach Jorge Vilda has been replaced with Montse Tome, the first woman to get the job.
Now Rubiales is gone, summoned to testify Friday before Spain’s National Court as a suspect in an investigation for sexual assault and coercion.
“The roster will come out [Friday], so you’ll see there what happens,” Gonzalez said. “But really, the focus is on [my] Gotham debut. It’s what [I’ve] been dreaming off, where [I’m] putting [my)] energy, and that’s the focus right now.”