2023, SEPTEMBER 02 – Spain’s embattled football chief, Luis Rubiales, remains resolute in the face of growing pressure after an unwanted kiss with star player Jenni Hermoso. The kiss, which followed Spain’s FIFA Women’s World Cup victory in Sydney last month, has sparked outrage and calls for Rubiales to resign.

Rubiales maintains that the kiss was consensual, but Hermoso vehemently disputes this, describing it as an “impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part.”

In a statement published widely in Spanish media, Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), criticised what he called a “manufactured campaign” against him. He also noted the substantial support he has received from the public, both on the streets and through social media.

Acknowledging his mistakes, Rubiales expressed heartfelt regret, acknowledging that even in moments of great joy and deep emotion, sports leaders are expected to exhibit exemplary behaviour. He extended apologies to players, the federation, fans, and anyone who might have been offended by his actions.

Rubiales contends that both parties consented to “affectionate hugs” and “affectionate mutual gestures” that occurred on stage during the World Cup medal presentation.

His comments, his first in days, come as the Spanish government faces difficulties in its attempts to remove Rubiales from his position. Spain’s Court of Arbitration in Sport (TAD) has agreed to open a case against Rubiales but rejected the government’s argument that his offenses were “very serious,” thus preventing his immediate suspension. Instead, ministers must now request the tribunal to take action.

In response, the Minister of Culture and Sport, Miquel Iceta, announced plans to submit a separate complaint to TAD, seeking Rubiales’s removal from his post until the investigation concludes.

Rubiales has already been suspended by FIFA, football’s global governing body, from all football-related activities for 90 days. However, Spanish law stipulates that the government can only suspend him if TAD deems his offenses “very serious.”

The ongoing controversy has led to members of the Women’s World Cup-winning team refusing to play until Rubiales is removed. His mother even went on a brief hunger strike in support of her son. Despite mounting pressure, Rubiales remains steadfast in his refusal to step down, vowing to “fight to the end.”

This week, all 19 of the Spanish federation’s regional presidents called for Rubiales’s resignation while unanimously supporting interim president Pedro Rocha, who assumed the role following Rubiales’s suspension by FIFA. Questions also loom over the tenure of Jorge Vilda, coach of Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning squad, as the interim RFEF boss hints at potential changes in leadership.


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