BBC accused of being 'baldist' after Pablo Zabaleta mistakenly used in Luis Rubiales report

BBC accused of being 'baldist' after Pablo Zabaleta mistakenly used in Luis Rubiales report
Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales's mother on hunger strike over her son's …

The BBC has been accused of “baldism” after mistakenly using footage of former Premier League footballer Pablo Zabaleta in a segment about Spanish football association (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales.

Rubiales has faced repeated calls to step down from his position as the head of Spain’s football association after he grabbed Spanish striker Jenni Hermoso and kissed her mouth during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony.

The BBC ran a news bulletin yesterday about the RFEF calling an urgent meeting to discuss the scandal which included footage of the kiss – but that quickly cut to a clip of Zabaleta walking alongside a colleague.

While the two bear some resemblance, the footage of the former Manchester City star was from the draw for the 2022 World Cup. The Fifa and Qatar logos are visible on the wall Zabaleta walks past in the video.

“A production error meant we showed the wrong image in an earlier broadcast. This has now been rectified,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Comedian Omid Djalili posted on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, about the incident. He poked fun at the organisation, saying: “As a bald man, I am offended. Especially as they didn’t include footage of me or [fellow bald celebrity] Stanley Tucci.”

One commenter asked: “Is this considered a ‘baldist’ offence?”

However, another person was more sympathetic, pointing out that the two look very alike. They said: “Gotta be honest, I watched the clip 3 times thinking 'wheres Zabaleta?'. Easily done IMO.”

Rubiales’ kiss has sparked outrage in Spain and beyond. Hermoso has since said the action was not consensual. She said the situation had left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of aggression”.

In her statement, she described the kiss as “an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part. In short, I wasn’t respected.”

Fifa, the sports governing body, has suspended Rubiales for 90 days starting on 26 August. The Spanish FA has stuck firmly by its boss throughout and has even threatened to sue Hermoso.

Separately on 28 August, a Spanish court opened a preliminary investigation to see if what took place was a sexual assault.

Spain’s labour minister and second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz has also weighed in, according to Reuters. She said male chauvinism is “systemic” in the country.

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