Spain's sports court agreed to investigate Luis Rubiales for forcibly kissing a Women's World Cup player as the scandal-hit football chief insisted he would defend himself to "prove the truth".
The government lodged a complaint against Rubiales through the state-run National Sports Council (CSD) exactly a week ago, accusing him of "very serious" offences.
But in agreeing to take the case, the Administrative Tribunal for Sport (TAD) said it considered the behaviour in question "serious", falling short of the government's characterisation of Rubiales' actions.
Had the court accepted the "very serious" qualification, it would have allowed the Sports Council to suspend the 46-year-old head of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) for the duration of the case.
Rubiales has already been suspended by world governing body FIFA for 90 days while it decides on disciplinary measures after he forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the mouth after Spain won the Women's World Cup final in Sydney on August 20.
Sports Minister Miquel Iceta said CSD would "ask the court to temporarily suspend Rubiales from his duties until the case against him has been definitively resolved".
"The Sports Council and the government believe the RFEF president's actions should be classified as a very serious abuse of authority which damage the image of Spanish football," he told a news conference.
"It's over... We will not tolerate any lack of respect for women's rights, nor will we back down on policies of equality between men and women in sport."
- 'It is about truth' -
Rubiales swiftly responded to the government pressure in a statement published by newspaper El Mundo, his first public words since his fiery defensive speech last week in which he refused to resign.
"I want to send a message to all the good people in our country and beyond our borders, including those women who have really been attacked and who have my full support and understanding: this is not about gender, it is about truth," said Rubiales.
Spain's top criminal court has also opened a preliminary investigation into the kiss on the grounds it could constitute "sexual assault", which under Spanish law covers a wide array of offences from online abuse to rape.
Rubiales also came under fire for grabbing his crotch with both hands as he celebrated Spain's win in Sydney while standing next to Spain's Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter, Princess Sofia.
The federation chief apologised for his behaviour but repeated his belief that the kiss was consensual -- Hermoso says it was not, and that she felt like a "victim of an assault".
"On August 20, I made some obvious mistakes, for which I sincerely, from the heart, regret," said Rubiales.
"I've learned that no matter how great the joy and how deep the emotion, even when you win a World Cup, sports leaders should be held to exemplary behaviour, and mine was not so."
Rubiales reiterated that the kiss was "a mutual and consensual act" with "overflowing jubilation on both sides". He said he believed justice would prevail.
"I still have confidence in the independence of the bodies where this matter should be resolved, despite the political pressure and the interest-driven brutality of certain media outlets," added Rubiales.
"Although information about this matter is being subjected to numerous manipulations, lies, and censorship, the truth has only one path, and that's why I repeat, I trust that justice will be served."
Rubiales also criticised politicians for giving their opinions on his behaviour.
"I am particularly concerned that some of those who should proclaim and contribute to ensuring the separation of powers in our country are determined to take part and exert pressure against me, instead of allowing justice to act ... while remaining impartial," he complained.
The Spanish football federation's territorial presidents asked Rubiales to step down from his post last week, while over 80 women's players are striking from the national team until there are changes in the RFEF leadership.
Earlier Spain men's coach Luis de la Fuente apologised for applauding Rubiales' speech last week in which the president railed against "false feminism".
"I have to say sorry, I made a mistake, it's inexcusable," De la Fuente told a news conference, confirming he will stay in his own post.
The Spanish football federation are set to force out controversial women’s coach Jorge Vilda, according to reports.