Luis Rubiales refused to resign from his role as president of the Spanish FA and blamed World Cup star Jenni Hermoso for his kiss in a wild press conference.
Rubiales has been widely criticised after kissing Hermoso on the lips in the aftermath of Spain’s first-ever Women’s World Cup victory. Video later emerged of Rubiales grabbing his crotch in celebration in close proximity to the Queen of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter.
Speaking to media on Friday, when he had been expected to resign and with the media briefed on his replacement, Rubiales doubled down on his position saying that he would fight to clear his name in court if necessary and calling out a “false feminism” witchhunt for the criticism.
🚨🗣️ Luis Rubiales refuses to resign as president of the Spanish football federation!
🇪🇸 "No voy a dimitir, no voy a dimitir!"
🏴 "I am not going to resign, I am not going to resign!"
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) August 25, 2023
He loudly told those gathered: “No I am not going to resign,” and reiterated himself a number of times, while some of the audience, including controversial Spain women’s head coach Jorge Vilda and Spain’s men’s head coach Luis de la Fuente, applauded his statement.
It was a bizarre press conference. He defended the kiss, saying: “Jenni was the one who lifted me up. I told her to ‘forget about the penalty’ and I said to her ‘a little peck?’ and she said ‘OK’. It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key.
“A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here? I will fight until the end.”
Hermoso herself said after the match, when asked about the kiss: “Er...no I did not like that,” and has released a statement along with her union Futpro calling for measures against Rubiales.
However, the president added in his speech: “Whoever watches the video will see the desire in that kiss is the same as with one of my daughters. There is no desire or dominance.
“It’s not what is being pushed in the media and feminism. The kiss was spontaneous, mutual and consensual.”
In an even more strange turn of phrase, he said that a “social assassination was taking place here” and that “I am ready to be vilified to defend my ideals”.
He added: “I apologise unreservedly but I don’t deserve this manhunt I have been suffering.”
Rubiales added, on his actions in the box: “I want to apologise unreservedly for something that happened in the presidential box, when in a moment of euphoria I grabbed a part of my body,” he said.
“Look, I got very excited and I lost control. I have to apologise to the royal family because it is a very unedifying gesture.”
Yesterday, the 46-year-old was being described as “cornered” by those with knowledge of the situation, as large amounts of public criticism have led to three formal complaints over whether his behaviour constituted an infraction of Spain’s sports law, which sanctions against sexist acts.
Fifa also opened its own investigation on Thursday and released the statement: “The events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code. The Fifa disciplinary committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter. Fifa reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”
The sections of the disciplinary code referenced in the Fifa statement cover “offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play”.
A further dimension to the story is that it is now being seen as potentially influencing Spain’s World Cup bid for 2030, which Rubiales has been central to.