Spanish Soccer Chief Stands Firm, Refuses Resignation Amid World Cup Kiss Controversy

14:36 25.08.2023

Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales Faces Backlash and Refuses to Resign Following Controversial Kiss at Women's World Cup Medals Ceremony

In a shocking turn of events, Luis Rubiales, the head of the Spanish soccer federation, has come under fire after he grabbed and kissed a member of the winning team on the lips during a Women's World Cup medals ceremony in Australia. Despite mounting pressure and calls for his resignation, Rubiales has insisted that he will not step aside, claiming to be the victim of "social assassination." The news reports had initially suggested that Rubiales would resign as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, but he defiantly took a stand during an extraordinary meeting of the federation, stating multiple times that he will not resign. His remarks received mixed reactions, with some offering loud applause while others remained silent. Rubiales accused his critics of engaging in "false feminism" and vowed to fight the controversy until the end.

The Spanish government, limited in its ability to punish members of the soccer federation, has taken steps to have Rubiales suspended after his defiant stance. V?­ctor Francos, the president of the National Sports Council and the secretary of state for sports, announced on Cadena SER radio that they have activated all the mechanisms to implement appropriate measures. This controversy has shed light on the ongoing issues of sexism and scandals within the Spanish women's soccer program. Last year, 15 players revolted against the coach and the federation, citing outdated training methods and controlling behavior. They even refused to play for the national team, although some eventually returned to compete in the World Cup. Players have also expressed dissatisfaction with unequal treatment and disrespect from male soccer executives, claiming that the men's team receives superior equipment and treatment.

Rubiales, previously a polarizing figure in Spanish soccer, expressed gratitude towards the coach, Jorge Vilda, during the meeting, stating that he will be rewarded with a new contract. However, these complaints of discrimination and mistreatment have persisted for decades within the Spanish women's team. Ignacio Quereda, who led the team for 27 years, was eventually dismissed after players protested against his derogatory remarks.

Following the World Cup final in Sydney, Rubiales was captured on video kissing Jennifer Hermoso, a Spanish forward who is believed to have supported the player revolt. In a post-match video, Hermoso made her disapproval of the incident known, stating, "Hey, but I didn't like that!" Rubiales initially offered a tepid apology on Monday as public outrage grew. However, in a sudden change of narrative on Friday, Rubiales claimed that Hermoso had lifted him off his feet and initiated the kiss, describing it as a "free, mutual, and consensual" act. Rubiales also announced his intention to take legal action against Yolanda Diaz, the second deputy prime minister, and other prominent Spanish politicians who called for his resignation, accusing them of "harassment."

The incident took place in close proximity to Queen Letizia of Spain, who was standing onstage to congratulate the team for their victory over England. Rubiales did issue an apology on Friday for grabbing his crotch during the post-match celebrations in front of the queen. However, as videos of the incident circulated on social media, many Spaniards expressed their disgust and accused Rubiales of perpetuating a culture of sexism in the sport.

Rubiales attempted various approaches to defuse the controversy, including dismissing his critics as idiots before leaving Australia. However, this only intensified the condemnation within Spain. The Minister of Culture and Sport demanded an explanation from Rubiales, deeming it unacceptable to congratulate soccer players by kissing them on the lips. Prominent politicians also called for his resignation, with the Minister of Equality accusing him of sexual violence. As the pressure mounted, Rubiales issued an apology, acknowledging that he may have made a mistake. However, Spain's acting Prime Minister, Pedro S??nchez, deemed the apology insufficient and labeled Rubiales' behavior as "unacceptable."

As speculation grew regarding Rubiales' future, FIFA initiated disciplinary proceedings against him, alleging that he violated their disciplinary code. The fallout continued to escalate, with the National Sports Council threatening to disqualify Rubiales from public office for violating the country's law on sexual violence in sports. In light of the mounting backlash, Rubiales eventually decided to resign from his position as the president of the Spanish Football Federation. This decision comes as a blow to Spanish football, as it overshadows the historic achievement of the women's team winning their first Women's World Cup title. The RFEF held an emergency meeting to discuss a path forward, and potential replacements for Rubiales include Pedro Rocha, the head of the Extremadura football federation, and Pablo Lozano, the boss of the Andalusia federation.

/ Friday, August 25, 2023, 2:36 PM /

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