Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has adamantly refused to resign from his position, amid intense pressure for him to, insisting that his kiss on the lips of football star Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s World Cup victory on Sunday was a “consensual peck”, and he kissed Hermoso as if she were his daughter.
NOT GOING TO RESIGN
Speaking at the much-anticipated RFEF emergency assembly which was broadcast live on Friday, Rubiales said he is being “socially assassinated” because of “false feminism”, which he described as a “scourge of society”.
“Do you think this is so serious that I should go, after the best management in the history of Spanish football? Let me tell you: I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign,” he shouted repeatedly, as though he were at a rally, drawing a round of applause.
“I’ve come under pressure. Perhaps somebody will look to remove me on Monday. But we live in a country of laws. Is a consensual peck going to take me out of here? I will fight until the end,” the 46-year-old declared, receiving a standing ovation from the predominantly male audience in the room.
RUBIALES MUST GO
Beyond that room though, there is widespread condemnation. The president of Spain’s Sports Council (CSD) and its Secretary of State for Sport, Victor Francos, confirmed the CSD would take action against Rubiales.
Acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz wrote on social media: “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.
Following FIFA’s announcement on Thursday that it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales, reports in the Spanish media had hinted at his resignation during Friday’s RFEF extraordinary assembly, but Rubiales, who has been RFEF president since 2018, would rather take the stage to vehemently defend his actions following Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final, which included grabbing his crotch as a victory gesture at the final whistle, and planting a kiss on Hermoso’s lips during the medal presentation ceremony.
“In a moment of euphoria, I grabbed that part of my body,” Rubiales said. “I was looking at [coach] Jorge Vilda. We’ve been through a lot this year. People have wanted to do the same to [Vilda] that people are doing to me, with a false narrative. We’ve suffered a lot. I got very emotional and lost control. … I must apologise to the Queen, the Infanta and the Royal Household. My sincere apologies.”
“NO BIG DEAL”
Regarding the controversial kiss, he said: “My desire in that moment was exactly the same as if I’d have been kissing one of my daughters. No more or less. Everybody understands that. It was a spontaneous kiss, mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key.
“[Hermoso] had missed a penalty. I have a great relationship with all the players. … In the moment that Jenni arrived, she lifted me up off the ground. We almost fell over. We hugged. I said, ‘Forget about the penalty, you’ve been fantastic, we wouldn’t have won the World Cup without you.’ She said: ‘You’re great.’ I said, ‘A kiss?’ and she said: ‘Yes.’
“From ‘no big deal’ and all that, then the pressure starts, the silence of the player and a statement [from Hermoso] that I don’t understand. Justice isn’t being done here. This is a social assassination of me, they’re trying to kill me.”
On Wednesday, in a joint statement with her players’ union, FUTPRO, Hermoso, who on Sunday had revealed on Instagram that she “didn’t like” the Rubiales’ gesture, said: “My union, FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency, TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter.”
FUTPRO said the incident should not go unpunished.
Reacting to Rubiales’ speech on Friday, former Spain internationals posted their criticism on social media.
David de Gea said: “My ears are bleeding.”
Iker Casillas said, “Total embarrassment.” The former Real Madrid goalkeeper then added: “We should have spent these five days talking about our girls, of the joy they gave us all, to boast of a title that we did not have in women’s football but… ”
While Real Betis player Borja Iglesias has ruled himself out of the men’s national team as long as Rubiales remained in charge.
SUPPORT FOR JENNI
Hermoso’s teammates have been expressing their support for her.
“There are limits that cannot be crossed and we cannot tolerate this. We are with you mate,” Aitana Bonmatí, the MVP of the just-concluded FIFA Women’s World Cup posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Mapi León, one of the Spanish stars who staged a revolt against coach Jorge Vilda last year has refused to return to the Spanish national team until necessary changes are made, added: “It is not necessary to spend a lot of time to see that what was demanded a few months ago was not a simple tantrum. The images speak for themselves, and I don’t think there is much more to add. It is unacceptable. With you Jenni Hermoso.”
Credit: AIPS Media