The Spanish government has begun legal processes to suspend Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), after he refused to resign after a week of mounting pressure following his uninvited kiss of Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso.
Rubiales, 46, announced his surprising resignation in a speech during an unusual meeting of the federation’s general assembly, in which he attempted to justify his behavior and lashed out at opponents.
“The government starts today the procedure so that Mr Rubiales has to give explanations before the Sport Court, and if the Sport Court agrees, I can announce that we will suspend Mr. Rubiales from his functions,” Victor Francos, the head of the state-run National Sports Council, said at a news conference on Friday.
“Do you think this [incident] is so serious that I should go, after the best management in Spanish football history?” Rubiales remarked earlier on Friday. Let me state unequivocally: I will not resign. I’m not going to step down. I’m not going to step down.
“I’ve been put under a lot of strain. Perhaps someone will try to get rid of me on Monday. But we live in a legal country. Is a mutual kiss enough to get rid of me? I intend to fight until the bitter end. I hope the law is obeyed and that, because there is no reason to [remove me], it does not occur.”
Rubiales detailed his actions following Spain’s triumph in the Women’s World Cup final, including grasping his crotch immediately after the win and kissing Hermoso on the lips at the medal presentation ceremony.
“In a moment of euphoria, I grabbed that part of my body,” Rubiales explained. “I had my gaze fixed on [coach] Jorge Vilda. This year has been challenging for us. People have wanted to use a fake narrative to do the same thing to [Vilda] as they are doing to me. We’ve been through a lot. I became overly emotional and lost control. I sincerely apologize to the Queen, the Infanta, and the rest of the Royal Household. Please accept my heartfelt apologies.”
However, Rubiales, who was elected president of the RFEF in 2018, refused to accept responsibility for the kiss.
“In that moment, my desire was exactly the same as if I had been kissing one of my daughters,” he explained. “Nothing more or less.” Everyone is aware of this. It was an unplanned, mutual, ecstatic, and consensual kiss. That is crucial.
“[Hermoso] had failed to convert a penalty. I get along well with all of the players… Jenni scooped me off the ground the moment she came. We were on the verge of collapsing. We exchanged hugs. ‘Forget about the penalty, you’ve been amazing, and we wouldn’t have won the World Cup without you,’ I told him. ‘You’re fantastic,’ she said. ‘A kiss?’ I asked, and she responded, ‘Yes.’
“From ‘no big deal’ and all that, the pressure begins, with the player’s silence and a statement [from Hermoso] that I don’t understand.” Justice is not being served here. They’re attempting to assassinate me through social assassination.”
Hermoso spoke out for the first time about the event on Wednesday, advocating action in a joint statement with her players’ union, FUTPRO, and calling to the RFEF to protect the players’ rights.
“My union, FUTPRO, is defending my interests and acting as the interlocutor on this matter in collaboration with my agency, TMJ,” Hermoso explained.
Meanwhile, Rubiales went on to label his detractors as “false feminists.”
“We must know the difference between truth and lies,” he stated. “I’m being truthful. False feminism seeks neither justice nor truth, and it is unconcerned about individuals. [Several politicians] have used phrases such as sexual violence and assault. What will women who have experienced sexual assault think of this?
“These people are attempting to assassinate me, and I will defend myself.” False feminists annihilate people. The press, for the most part, will continue to murder me, but I know the truth, as do my family and those who care about me. “What is true is true.”
Following the speech, former Spain internationals criticized Rubiales on social media, with David de Gea remarking, “My ears are bleeding,” and Iker Casillas saying, “Total embarrassment.”
Borja Iglesias of Real Betis has also stated that he will not play for the men’s national team again as long as Rubiales is in charge.
Rubiales’ behavior following Spain’s World Cup victory in Sydney drew condemnation both domestically and abroad, with FIFA stating Thursday that disciplinary proceedings would begin.
Rubiales called his detractors “idiots” at first, but afterwards apologized.
Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain termed the reaction “insufficient and inadequate,” while acting Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz demanded Rubiales quit.
Rubiales has been a divisive figure during his time as president of Spanish football’s regulatory body.
On the eve of the men’s 2018 World Cup, he fired Spain coach Julen Lopetegui and took the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia alongside then-active player Gerard Pique as a business partner.
The RFEF was also chastised for its treatment of 15 Spanish women’s national team players’ complaints about coach Jorge Vilda and the federation’s backing for the team.
Rubiales’ response was to rally around Vilda. After numerous revisions, three of the fifteen made it to the World Cup, while seven refused to compete and five were not chosen.