As Jenni Hermoso looks on, Aitana Bonmatí hails 'powerful generation of women'

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LONDON (AP) — World Cup champion Aitana Bonmatí hailed a “powerful generation of women” on Monday in accepting FIFA's award as best female soccer player.

Looking on inside the Hammersmith Apollo theater in London was Spain teammate Jenni Hermoso, who has spearheaded the fight against sexism in women's soccer in Spain.

Hermoso was on the shortlist for the award, along with runner-up Linda Caicedo of Colombia.

Bonmatí and Hermoso helped Spain win its first Women's World Cup, beating England 1-0 in the final in Sydney last August.

The 33-year-old Hermoso was forcibly kissed on the lips by then-Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales during the trophy ceremony. Hermoso recently testified at a Madrid court as part of a sexual assault case against Rubiales.

“I’m proud of being part of a powerful generation of women who are changing the rules of the game and the world,” Bonmatí said in English.

The 25-year-old Spain playmaker won her first Ballon d’Or award last October. She took home a UEFA award in August, and used her acceptance speech to support Hermoso.

Rubiales eventually resigned three weeks after the Aug. 20 final. Women’s team coach Jorge Vilda also left his post in the fallout.

Hermoso recently stated that Vilda also had to go because players felt he routinely invaded their privacy.

Marta, who played in her sixth Women’s World Cup last year, was presented a career-achievement award and Marcia Aoki, who is Pelé’s widow, was on stage to present it.

The 37-year-old Marta urged the audience to “search every day” for ways to improve equality, especially for women.

"Try to make the world better for everyone. That’s my message to everyone, to every person who has the power (to make changes),” Marta added, before motioning to Hermoso as an example. “The next generations will thank you for that.”

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer