Spanish football boss Luis Rubiales has refused to resign from his post as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) after a week of fierce criticism after a video showed him unwanted kissing a star player for Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning team .
Rubiales spoke at the federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday and said he will “fight until the end.”
In a challenging speech, he described the kiss as “mutual” and he spoke of “unfair” campaigning and “phony feminism” and emphatically stated several times during the nearly 30-minute speech that he would not resign.
Rubiales was filmed forcibly kissing Spanish star Jennifer Hermoso, who helped The Red win your first Women’s World Cup title on Sunday in Sydney – on the lips after collecting her winner’s medal, an act that the 33-year-old World Cup winner later said she “didn’t like it” and “didn’t expect.”
Rubiales’ comments on Friday drew further criticism from some in the Spanish soccer community, including Hermoso’s international teammate and two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who called his speech “unacceptable.” Spain forward Borja Iglesias said he will not play for the national team “until things change.”
On Monday, Rubiales admitted he had “made a mistake”, but criticism from the world of football and Spanish politicians continued to pour in throughout the week, including Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who said the apology for what he called an “unacceptable gesture” “was not enough.”
On Friday, the embattled president staunchly defended his actions in the finale, saying: “Everybody here – including some of them, my family, my daughters – the wish that could have been there in that kiss is the exact same wish that could have been there. . like kissing one of my daughters. No more no less.
“It was a spontaneous kiss… It was spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consenting, which is the key. This is the key to all the criticism, to the entire campaign that has been mounted in this country: that it was done without consent. No. It was with consent.”
Rubiales also said he was not “in any position of dominance” during the kiss and had wanted to console Hermoso, who had missed a penalty to put Spain ahead 2-0 in the final.
“When Jenni first appeared, she picked me up off the ground. She grabbed me by the hips, by the legs, I don’t remember well, ”she said. “She picked me up off the ground and we almost fell.
“And when he put me down, we hugged. She was the one who took me in her arms and pulled me into her body. We hugged and I told him: ‘Forget the penalty.’ You were fantastic, we wouldn’t have won this World Cup without you.” She replied: ‘You’re incredible.’ And I said: ‘Little kiss?’ And she said, ‘Okay.’
“Then the kissing thing happened throughout this whole celebration: she patted my side and then apologized with one more hand to her side and laughed. That’s the whole sequence. That everyone understood, that everyone thought was an anecdote, and above all, she said that it was an anecdote and nothing more”.
CNN has contacted FUTPRO and the RFEF for comment.
On Wednesday, after strong criticism of Rubiales’s kiss by journalists, politicians and campaign groups, Hermoso said that the Association of Professional Soccer Players of Spain (FUTPRO) and its agency TMJ would be “defending my interests and acting as spokespersons in this matter.” ”.
Then, on Thursday, world governing body FIFA said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales because he may have violated the game’s “basic rules of decent conduct.”
While acknowledging that he needed to apologize for his actions, Rubiales described the calls for his resignation as a “witch hunt.”
“… the kiss, which I said was free, it was mutual, it was with consent, but obviously I still have to apologize for the context in which it was given. I don’t live off world and I know I made a mistake on this,” he said. “But do we think this is worth the witch hunt I’m going through? Do you really believe that?
“Another thing is what someone has to say publicly, but do you think this hunt is worth it? Why ask for my resignation? Is it so serious that I have to leave having made the best leadership in the history of Spanish football?
“Do you think I have to resign? Well, I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not going to resign! I will not resign! I will not resign! I will not resign! I will not resign!”
“A totally unacceptable and damaging message”
In response to Rubiales’ speech, the global players’ union FIFPRO said it was again calling for “immediate disciplinary action.”
“We welcome FIFA’s decision to open an ethics case and the measures taken at the national level in Spain. In addition, we have written to UEFA – the organization of which Mr. Rubiales is vice president – requesting that it initiate a disciplinary procedure”, he said in a statement. statement.
“Any lack of action by the authorities to address the conduct of Mr. Rubiales would send a totally unacceptable and damaging message to the soccer industry and to society in general.”
in a statement, FC Barcelona said the club considered Rubiales’ behavior during the World Cup celebrations as “totally improper” and “inappropriate”.
“Faced with this unjustifiable incident, FC Barcelona remains committed to its policy of supporting women’s sport, equality between men and women in sport and in society in general, and guaranteeing the safety of women in sport and denouncing any behavior that violates our principles and Statutes,” the club said on Friday.
Forward Iglesias wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter: “I am sad and disappointed. As a footballer and as a person I do not feel represented by what happened today in the Ciudad del Fútbol de Las Rozas. I find it despicable that they continue to pressure and put a colleague in the crosshairs.
“Putting on the Spanish team shirt is the most important thing that has happened to me in my career. I don’t know if one day I will have the opportunity to do it again, but I have made the decision not to return to the National Team until things change and this type of act does not go unpunished. For a fairer, more humane and dignified football”.
Putellas expressed his support for his partner social Media, saying, “This is unacceptable. It’s over. I’m with you mate (Beautiful)”
Former Spain captain Iker Casillas called the situation “complete shame” while fellow Spain goalkeeper David de Gea wrote in X: “My ears are bleeding.” Spanish soccer star Héctor Bellerín wrote on Instagram that Rubiales’ actions and comments were a “true shame.”