Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales will quit his post after being roundly condemned by the football world and beyond for forcibly kissing a Spain player on the mouth following the Women’s World Cup final, several media outlets reported Thursday. Rubiales, 46, will submit his resignation as president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) on Friday at an extraordinary general assembly, according to the reports.
After Spain’s 1-0 win over England in the final in Sydney on Sunday Rubiales gave midfielder Jennifer Hermoso an unsolicited kiss on the lips. He also celebrated victory by grabbing his genitals.
The RFEF did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
“Feminism is changing everything,” wrote Spain’s Minister for Equality Irene Montero on social media, shortly after the reports emerged.
Rubiales came under unprecedented pressure to resign, with days of criticism from figures including Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s women’s league and several men’s La Liga clubs, as well as internationally.
FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales earlier Thursday. FIFA said the incident “may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA disciplinary code”.
Spain star Hermoso released a joint statement with union Futpro on Wednesday, which called for action to be taken against the RFEF president.
“We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable,” the statement said.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International offered their backing to Hermoso on Thursday.
“Amnesty International wants to show their support for the demands of the player, who has asked the (RFEF) to set underway ‘exemplary measures’ regarding the non-consensual kiss,” said the organisation in a statement.
“(We) underline that this behaviour is a form of sexual violence like any other, and cannot be justified in any way.”
Rubiales laughed off the incident earlier in the week, branding his critics “idiots” for reading too much into what an RFEF spokesman initially described to AFP as a “spontaneous celebration”.
However he later issued an apology which was also criticised, with prime minister Sanchez saying it was “insufficient”.
– Mounting criticism –
Earlier Thursday Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admonished Rubiales for his conduct as the criticism continued to mount.
“It’s a very delicate topic, like most people it was behaviour that I obviously did not like,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
“It was not the behaviour of a president of the federation.”
Further Spanish clubs joined the wave of dissent against Rubiales on Thursday, following Getafe president Angel Torres the day before.
“We must all be consistent with what we do and say, that’s a fundamental thing,” Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo told TV show Jugones on Spanish channel Mega.
“He will have to do what he considers appropriate, but I think that what he has to do is present his resignation.”
Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay also positioned himself against Rubiales.
“This should have been over days ago, it’s a shame that we are here and this has not been concluded,” he told Radio Euskadi.
Rubiales became president of the RFEF in May 2018 and has since been mired in a number of controversies.
He sacked Spain coach Julen Lopetegui two days before the country began their 2018 World Cup campaign, and moved the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.
Rubiales backed controversial coach Jorge Vilda amid a wider dispute with 15 female players who refused to play for Spain, although several relented and three were called up to the World Cup winning squad.
Barcelona fans at their women’s team’s friendly against Juventus on Thursday evening had chanted for Rubiales to resign.
The Barcelona team featured three players — Patri Guijarro, Mapi Leon and Claudia Pina — who had not renounced their stance and missed out on the tournament in Australia and New Zealand
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