Spanish Football Chief Rubiales Resigns Over Kiss Scandal

Luis Rubiales, head of the Spanish Football Federation, has resigned after receiving harsh criticism for kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the Women’s World Cup victory ceremony.

Rubiales, who was already suspended, sent his resignation to the federation’s interim president in an open letter and explained his decision to stand down in a televised appearance.

“I’m going to (resign), yes, because I cannot continue my work,” the 46-year-old told television show “Piers Morgan Uncensored”.

“(Family and friends) say to me, ‘Luis, you need to focus on your dignity and continue your life. If not you are going to damage people you love and the sport you love.’”

Rubiales aroused outrage throughout the world on August 20 for forcibly kissing midfielder Hermoso during the medal ceremony following Spain’s World Cup victory in Sydney.

FIFA provisionally suspended him for 90 days after he refused to retire, and Spanish public prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against him for alleged sexual assault and coercion.

On Tuesday, Hermoso, 33, filed a lawsuit with the National Court, accusing Rubiales of s**ual assault.

Rubiales stated in an open letter released on Sunday night that he had told the federation that he would also stepping down as a vice-president of European football regulatory body UEFA.

“After the swift suspension carried out by FIFA, plus the rest of the procedures opened against me, it is evident that I will not be able to return to my position,” said Rubiales in the letter.

“Insisting on waiting and clinging to it is not going to contribute to anything positive, neither for the federation nor for Spanish football.

“Among other things, because there are powers that be that will prevent my return.”

Rubiales, who insists the kiss was consensual, said he did not want Spanish football to be hurt by “such a disproportionate campaign” against him.

“I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power so that it prevails,” he wrote.

Rubiales said his departure would contribute “stability” to the 2030 men’s World Cup bid in which Spain are involved.

As the pressure ramped up in recent weeks on him to quit, Rubiales’ mother Angeles Bejar went on a hunger strike in protest, locking herself in a church.

‘It’s Over’

Some Spanish politicians hailed Rubiales’ downfall.

“We are with you, Jenni, and with all women,” said second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Irene Montero, Spain’s equality minister, scrawled “It’s Over” on X, a phrase adopted by Hermoso and her teammates in protest of Rubiales.

Over 80 women’s team players went on strike in response to Rubiales’ vehement defense speech following the incident, in which he railed against “false feminism” and insisted he would not resign.

The players stated that they would not return unless the RFEF’s (Spanish football federation) leadership was changed.

In the aftermath of the controversy, controversial women’s coach Jorge Vilda was fired on Tuesday.

The RFEF, under interim president Pedro Rocha, also apologised for the “totally unacceptable behaviour” of Rubiales.

Vilda’s former assistant Montserrat Tome is the new coach — it is the first time a woman has led the team.

Spain’s women’s team are due to play Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26 respectively.

Legal Action

Spanish prosecutors’ lawsuit against Rubiales will be analysed by a National Court judge.

If the judge grants the motion, a magistrate will be assigned to lead an investigation, which will result in either a recommendation that the case be tried or dismissed.

On Monday, Australian police told AFP that they were eager to assist with an inquiry, but that no report had yet been referred to them.

Hermoso, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, has said the unwanted kiss left her feeling “vulnerable and like the victim of an assault”, with a statement on social media describing it as “an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part”.

She has also accused Rubiales of pressuring her to speak out in his defence immediately after the furore over the kiss erupted, which prosecutors said could be considered a crime of coercion.

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