Think of the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup as the Vegas strip, if you like.

On the surface it’s all bright lights and happy vibes but there has been a seedier underbelly to some of which has played out across the last month, culminating as Spain celebrated their win over England last Sunday.

With the eyes of an audience that is among the biggest globally for a women’s football tournament, Luis Rubiales, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation crudely exploited his position as he celebrated the historic World Cup win.  Just six days after the success in Sydney, Rubiales had to be dragged kicking and screaming from his position but the mess he has left behind is a stain not just on the Spanish game but on the wider question of leadership in women’s football.

Video footage and photographs showed Rubiales grabbing his crotch as he celebrated the win, a gesture so incongruously aggressively masculine at a tournament that was centred around an ethos of inclusivity.

This, of course, was before the unsolicited kiss that was planted full on the lips of Jenni Hermoso that prompted a FIFA investigation, an emergency meeting of the football federations’s general assembly and a slack-jawed global reaction.

There is something predictable wearisome about the victim has been portrayed in all of this; Hermoso released a statement on Friday afternoon to clarify that the kiss was not consensual. Indeed, it came to light that PR staff had engineered an equally nonconsensual statement as she and her family had been put under pressure to back up Rubiales as they travelled back from the tournament.

The Spanish Football Federation effectively said they didn’t believe her.
Rubiales did more than just double down on his behaviour but rather hired an excavator and furiously kept digging.

Rubiales described those who took issue with his “public show of affection” as “idiots”, “stupid”, “fools” and “losers” before summing it all up as “bulls**t”. A subsequent apology pretty much amounted to little more than being sorry if anyone had somehow happened to be offended by his actions.
The understanding is that he had also repeatedly tried to convince Hermoso to appear in a joint apology - a request that was made in front of the other players, family and staff. She rejected the offer. 

“I am not resigning,” Rubiales told Friday’s assembly, repeating it with increasing gusto. 

"Equality is not to differentiate when there is an opinion from a man or a woman. It's to differentiate between truth and a lie,” he said. “I am saying the truth to you here today... I am a true feminist, not the false feminism that is out there.”

He also claimed to have been “socially murdered” and that the “peck” was consensual. It was difficult not to conclude that the tone of his speech caused as much damage as his conduct.

It says much, too, that his insidious rhetoric was vigorously applauded by Spanish men’s first-team coach Luis De La Fuente as well as Jorge Vilda - very much Rubiales’ man and the divisive coach who oversaw the World Cup success and who also appeared to be pictured groping the breast of a female staff member during Sunday’s celebrations.

What might it have felt to be a woman in that room as powerful men applauded another powerful man while the perspective of the victim was being manipulated, doubted, twisted? It will resonate with women around the globe and not just those who play football.

The obvious take from the reactions of de la Fuente and Vilda are the insights it offers into the mindset of the culture that surrounds the women’s team.

Twelve players watched the World Cup win over England from their home after refusing to represent their country while Vilda remained in charge; 15 had refused last September to turn up for international football so long as Vilda was there.

Spain’s triumph came against this undercurrent of tension. As well as Vilda’s conduct, they  have complained repeatedly about the professional standards in the national team, about long journeys by bus instead of plane and a discrepancy in levels between how the men and women’s teams are treated.

If it utterly soils a week in which Spain should have been celebrating their triumph at a World Cup that offered so much to get excited about for women’s football in terms of quality, audience numbers and global attention, it is not new.

Complaints over facilities, disputes over bonuses and issues with infrastructure dominated the build-up.

South Africa refused to play their last pre-tournament friendly,  Jamaica required external financial support. Nigeria’s Randy Waldrum criticised his federation for the lack of support. England were still at odds over the bonus structure going into the tournament.

When you see what can be achieved with a little support, it is imperative that the legacy of Spain’s victory and the tournament as a whole is not in the sordid nature of Rubiales but in how the game is taken forward by those who are positioned to govern it.

Rubiales’ suspension should only be the start of it.