Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales Refuses to Step Down from Post, Claims Women’s World Cup Kiss was ‘Mutual’

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Rubiales told an extraordinary general assembly of Spain’s football federation on Friday that he would not step down, vowing to “fight to the end”.

Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales has refused to resign as president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) despite facing fierce criticism and disciplinary proceedings over his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final last Sunday.

Rubiales forcibly kissed Spain star Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the trophy and medals presentation after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England in Sydney, Australia – an act which the 33-year-old World Cup winner later said she “didn’t like” and “didn’t expect.”

She said in a statement such acts “should never go unpunished”.

Rubiales had earlier grabbed his crotch in celebration of Spain’s victory while standing metres away from Spanish Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter in the stadium’s VIP area.

“I will not resign,” he said several times while speaking at a meeting of the federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday. He vowed to “fight to the end”.

In a defiant speech, the 46-year-old said the kiss was “mutual” and “with consent”. He also spoke of “unjust” campaigns and “fake feminism”.

“I apologise for my mistakes. I’m going to continue fighting as my parents and my coaches taught me. Those who know me, know that we are going to get to the end,” he told the assembly, which the RFEF called “as a matter of urgency”.

“The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters,” Rubiales said.

His comments elicited further criticism from some members of the Spanish soccer community, including The Spain men’s team striker Borja Iglesias who said he would not be playing for the national team “until things change.”

Spain’s second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz tweeted: “What we have seen today... is unacceptable. The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”

Rubiales issued an apology Monday before Football’s world governing body FIFA, but Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said it was “not enough”.

Then on Thursday, FIFA said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales as he may have violated the game’s “basic rules of decent conduct.” The body said it remained committed to “respecting the integrity of all individuals, and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary”.

Hermoso’s interests in the case are being managed by players’ union FUTPRO, which expressed its “firm and resounding condemnation” for behaviour “which violates the dignity of women” in its own statement Wednesday.

The union said it has written to UEFA, of which Rubiales is one of six vice-presidents, “requesting that it starts disciplinary proceedings”.

“Any lack of action by authorities in addressing the conduct of Mr Rubiales would send an entirely unacceptable and damaging message to the football industry and wider society,” FUTPRO added.