Aussie Olympian Jana Pittman Recounts Being ‘Kissed Inappropriately’ By An International Coach

Following the world’s disgust at Jules Rubiales’ kiss with Jennifer ‘Jenni’ Hermoso during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Aussie Olympian and world-class athlete Dr Jana Pittman has opened up about the moment when she was allegedly “kissed inappropriately” by an international coach.

During last night’s episode of ABC’s Q+A, the Olympian claimed she was also once kissed by a coach during a competition. Pittman shared the story after an audience member asked about the current conversation surrounding consent and sexual harassment that has stemmed from the Rubiales and Hermoso incident at the Women’s World Cup final.

In case you’re not familiar with what has happened in the world of women’s soccer: Spanish football federation president Rubiales is copping major heat after he grabbed and kissed Spanish striker Hermoso after their historic win.

After he refused to resign from his position, many people have voiced their support for the footballer.

“I have been kissed inappropriately by a coach. Not mine, an international coach, where it was a cultural norm in that setting,” Pittman recalled.

“I didn’t really think anything of it until I witnessed this in television.

“Consent is very important for our women to feel safe in those different environments and if we don’t stand up for it in a public setting, then it’s a misdemeanour for women globally.”

Later on, in the panel, Pittman reflected back on her experience and said “she didn’t take it personally” after she was kissed by the unnamed coach.

“As I was saying, it was a particular coach where culturally it was norm. So it wasn’t just me but it wasn’t really accepted as badly at that time,” Pittman continued.

“I knew him quite well. He was a very friendly coach. He was a phenomenal coach. A phenomenal person so I didn’t take it personally because in that context it wasn’t meant in a way that is discriminatory against me.”

She then condemned Rubiales for not resigning from his position.

“I feel like if he had have been even slightly apologetic for those reactions, we would all be feeling very differently about the way he’s behaved,” she added.

The former athlete went on to express her disappointment that the incident overshadowed what the meaning behind the Women’s World Cup and how it showcased the true power of women’s sports.

“The hardest and saddest thing that’s come out of this is that how much it’s overshadowing what this incredible World Cup means for women in sport internationally and in this country,” the former athlete added.

“I think we really need to get back and focus on how amazing the fact that we knocked off so many men’s vests in terms of sales and the fact that this is one of the most highly watched events since Cathy Freeman‘s win.

She then goes on to say that we should “squash the media in [that] space” in order to refocus on the significance this World Cup has had for women athletes and women across the world.

(Image source: YouTube / abcqanda)

Although I agree with Pittman mentioning that this has completely overshadowed the true signficance of the Women’s World Cup, I do not believe that we should stop talking about it.

I think you can most definitely celebrate this amazing moment in history whilst recognising the problems that need to be addressed.

It’s so important to spotlight stories like this and hold those who act inappropriately accountable, and as Hermoso claimed in her own statement that was released last Friday, this is not a one-off incident.

“These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing in recent years. This incident, one in which I have been involved, is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television during the celebration also comes with attitudes like the one we saw this morning and have been apart of our team’s daily life for years,” Hermoso wrote.

Since the incident happened, FIFA has suspended Rubiales from all football activity for the next 90 days. About 81 Spanish players – including the entire Spanish Women’s World Cup-winning squad — have gone on strike to protest Rubiales’ refusal to resign.

His mother Angeles Behar has reportedly gone on a hunger strike until her son recieves “justice”.

Honestly, I just hope Hermoso and the rest of the Spanish squad recieve all the support that they can get through this difficult time.

And as Pittman said, it should’ve been a celebration, but Rubiales truly took that away from them and it’s just so fucking disappointing.