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Spain football federation asks Rubiales to resign over kiss

Zac Crellin
August 28, 2023

As the world reacts to Luis Rubiales' controversial kiss, the Spanish Soccer Federation takes a firm stance. Emergency meetings are held and calls for his resignation intensify.

A headshot of Luis Rubiales
Luis Rubiales has rejected repeated calls to resign after he kissed Jenni Hermoso without her consent at the Women's World CupImage: Gabriel Bouys/picture alliance/La Nacion/ZUMA Press

Spain's football federation asked Luis Rubiales to resign as president on Monday night after he kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips at the Women's World Cup.

The regional presidents of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) held a second emergency meeting after Rubiales repeatedly refused to step down in recent days, sparking national and international outrage.

What Spain's football federation said about Rubiales

"After recent events and the unacceptable behavior that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents request that Luis Rubiales resign immediately as president of the RFEF," the football federation said in a statement.

Hermoso previously said she "felt vulnerable and a victim of an assault, an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part."

The statement from the football federation officials also urged an overhaul in the organization's management — something many Spanish players have demanded in the wake of the incident.

"We will urge the relevant authorities to carry out a profound and imminent organizational restructuring in strategic positions of the federation in order to make way for a new stage in the management of Spanish football," it read.

Worldwide outrage over Rubiales kiss row

Women football players worldwide have voiced solidarity with Hermoso over the past week.

The Spanish national women's team signed a joint letter with Hermoso saying they would no longer represent their country unless the current leadership of the football federation is removed.

Atletico Madrid posing with a banner that reads: "Standing with Jennifer Hermoso"
Football players around the world are voicing solidarity with Jenni Hermoso, including her first professional club, Atletico MadridImage: Oscar J. Barroso/AFP7/picture alliance

Further afield, women in football and their male counterparts have formed a chorus condemning Rubiales' actions and his refusal to step down.

Former Germany goalkeeper and two-time Women's World Cup winner Nadine Angerer said the incident has deeply affected players.

"It's absolutely disgusting what happened," Angerer told DW on Monday.

"You just won a World Cup. You are happy, you worked such a long time for this moment. And at the biggest event for women worldwide, everybody speaks about one man."

Nadine Angerer speaks out on Rubiales scandal

Angerer is now the goalkeeping coach for the Portland Thorns in the United States.

She said the young women in her team have been heartened by the worldwide solidarity from seasoned football players.

"They are shocked, of course," she said.

"But at the same time, they're very proud that the solidarity worldwide is with Jenni Hermoso."

Numerous teams have also held banners in support of Hermoso, including Atletico Madrid where she got her professional start and Pachuca in Mexico, where she currently plays.

The Pachuca football team holding a banner that reads: "We are with you Jenni"
Jenni Hermoso's current club, Pachuca in Mexico, posed with a banner that read: 'We are with you Jenni'Image: Christian Chavez/AP/picture alliance

More respect needed in women's football

Angerer said more needs to be done to make sure the men connected to women's football demonstrate "awareness and just normal respect."

This is a position echoed by FIFA, which has provisionally suspended Rubiales and ordered him and not to contact Hermoso or those around her.

The suspension will last for 90 days, pending the outcome of FIFA disciplinary proceedings that will determine whether Rubiales violated "the basic rules of decent conduct" and behaved "in a way that brings the sport into disrepute."

Controversy around Luis Rubiales continues

Rubiales could also face consequences at home after Spanish prosecutors opened a sexual assault case on Monday.

The head of Spain's sports regulatory body Victor Francos, who is also the country's sports minister, will also bring Rubiales before a tribunal, which could potentially lead to him being suspended from his position as head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

"I think we can say it is the 'MeToo' of Spanish football," Francos told journalists last week.

"There has to be a change," he added. "The government wants to warn, to be very clear and say that there are things that can't happen again."

Edited by: Louis Oelofse