The Spanish football federation president is refusing to step down from his role following backlash over his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final.
Luis Rubiales has been heavily criticised after kissing forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s victory last Sunday – but he won’t be going quietly.
What happened on Sunday?
Rubiales is a UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) vice president and was the European football body’s most senior elected representative at the tournament’s final in Australia last weekend.
Rubiales was lining up with other football officials to congratulate the victorious Spanish team after they beat England’s Lionesses, 1-0, last Sunday, when he suddenly kissed Hermoso on the lips – grabbing her head while doing so.
He kissed the other players on the cheek when they were greeting him following the match as well.
He has since faced backlash for grabbing his crotch during the final whistle, too, while sitting in the VIP area of the stadium while standing near 16-year-old Princess Sofia.
In an Instagram video filmed in the dressing room after the incident, the Spanish team could be seen laughing while re-watching Rubiales kiss Hermoso.
Hermoso also laughed and shouted: “But I didn’t like it!”
The other players asked her what she was doing and she just shouted, “look at me, look at me,” which has been interpreted as a way of saying she couldn’t do much.
A statement issued shortly afterwards (on her behalf) by the Royal Spanish Football Federation quoted Hermoso as saying: “It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings.”
How did Rubiales initially respond?
On Monday, Rubiales said in a video statement that he was “completely wrong” to kiss Hermoso without her consent.
He said: “It was without bad intention at a time with a lot of excitement. In the moment, we saw it as natural, but outside a commotion has formed.
“I have to apologise, learn from this, and understand that when you are president you have to be more careful.”
How has the incident developed?
On Wednesday, in a joint statement with her union and agency, Hermoso showed she planned to take action.
She said: “My union Futpro, in co-ordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter.”
The Futpro statement said: “We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable.”
Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez then waded into the row, saying Rubiales’ actions were an “unacceptable gesture” and his apology was”not enough”.
Spain’s second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz called for the football official’s resignation, while Spain’s equalities minister Irene Montero said: “It’s a form of sexual violence women suffer on a daily basis.”
She added: “We should not assume kissing without consent is something ’that happens’.”
Meanwhile, Spain’s top women’s league, Liga F, said he should be disqualified because he “sullied” the World Cup win.
Liga F claimed he had created “unprecedented international embarrassment for Spain, Spanish sport and for women’s football in the world”.
The Fifa disciplinary committee also said on Thursday said that his actions may have violated its disciplinary code.
Liga F statement also revealed it had lodged a complaint with national Sports Council asking for Rubiales’ disqualification, adding: “One of the biggest achievements in Spanish football history was sullied by the shameful behaviour of the highest representative of Spanish football.
“It’s an incident which has entered the history of world sport and, more seriously still, will forever be linked to our national women’s team.”
And by Thursday, Spanish media was reported that the football executive was planning on resigning.
How has Rubiales reacted to calls for his resignation?
By Friday, the Spanish football federation called a general assembly on Friday “as a matter of urgency” over the issue, where Rubiales issued a defiant statement.
And he refused to step down, despite reports to the contrary. Instead, he spent his speech criticising the “false feminism” and “social assassination” of his character that he claims has occurred over the last week.
He said: “I will not resign, I will fight this to the end.”
He claimed there was a “social assassination” and that “they are trying to kill me”.
Rubiales also alleged that the moment he grabbed his crotch was “unfortunate” and made in the “euphoria” of the moment, while alleging his kiss with Hermoso was consensual, claiming he had asked her if he could give her a little peck – to which she supposedly said yes.
Second deputy PM Diaz wrote on social media that his response was “unacceptable”, adding: “The government must act and take urgent measures. Impunity fo machista actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue inthis position.”
Spain’s public prosecutor and the National Sports Council will now be taking action, according to equality minister Montero, who also wrote online: “Now more than ever, Jenni Hermoso, you are not alone.”