Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish FA, has refused to resign despite widespread criticism for kissing World Cup star Jenni Hermoso on the lips and grabbing his crotch in celebration in close proximity to the Queen of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter.
Rubiales doubled down on his position in a chaotic press conference on Friday, saying that he would fight to clear his name in court if necessary and calling out a “false feminism” witch hunt for the criticism.
The Spanish FA has been under fire for its handling of the women’s national team, and Rubiales has been accused of sexism and misogyny. The kiss on Hermoso’s lips was seen by many as a power play and a violation of her personal space. The crotch grabbing incident was seen as even more egregious, as it was done in front of the Queen and her daughter.
Rubiales’ refusal to resign has only further angered critics, who are calling for him to be removed from office. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to weather the storm and keep his job.
He emphatically stated to the crowd that he would not resign, repeating himself multiple times. His statement was met with applause from some in the audience, including the controversial Spain women’s head coach Jorge Vilda and Spain’s men’s head coach Luis de la Fuente.
The press conference took an odd turn. He stood by the kiss, stating, “Jenni was the one who lifted me up. I suggested to her, ‘Let’s forget about the penalty,’ and I asked her, ‘A little peck?’ She replied, ‘Okay.’ It was a spontaneous kiss—mutual, euphoric, and consensual. That’s the crux of the matter.”
“Can a consensual ‘peck’ be enough to put me in this situation? I will fight until the very end.”
Hermoso herself commented on the kiss after the match, saying, “Um… I didn’t like that.” She, along with her union Futpro, has released a statement calling for actions against Rubiales.
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Nevertheless, the president inserted into his speech, “Anyone who watches the video will recognize that the sentiment in that kiss is akin to that with one of my daughters. There’s no lust or dominance involved.”
“It doesn’t align with the narrative being projected in the media and within feminism. The kiss was spontaneous, mutual, and consensual.”
In an even more peculiar choice of words, he mentioned that a “character assassination” was transpiring here and stated, “I’m prepared to face criticism to uphold my beliefs.”
He further stated, “I offer my sincerest apologies, but I don’t deserve this witch hunt I’ve been subjected to.”
Yesterday, individuals familiar with the situation were characterizing the 46-year-old as “trapped” due to substantial public backlash. The surge in public criticism has resulted in three formal complaints regarding whether his actions constituted a violation of Spain’s sports law, which imposes penalties for acts that are deemed sexist.
Fifa has also initiated its own inquiry, as confirmed in their statement on Thursday: “The incidents might amount to breaches of Article 13 Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code. The FIFA disciplinary committee will furnish additional details concerning these disciplinary proceedings after reaching a final verdict on the matter. Fifa renews its unwavering commitment to upholding the dignity of all individuals and vehemently condemns any conduct to the contrary.”
The segments of the disciplinary code alluded to in the Fifa statement pertain to “offensive behavior and violations of the principles of fair play.”
Adding another layer to the narrative, it is now being speculated that this incident could potentially impact Spain’s bid for host the 2030 World Cup, a bid that Rubiales has played a pivotal role in.