Spain’s football president Luis Rubiales resigns amid kissing scandal

BARCELONA, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales resigned on Sunday, three weeks after he was accused of inappropriately kissing a women’s national team player after celebrating last month’s World Cup victory.

Rubiales announced his resignation in which he said his position was unacceptable, with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) later confirming he had sent a letter of resignation to acting president Pedro Rocha.

His kiss to player Jenny Hermozo after the World Cup win in Sydney on August 20 sparked outrage among players, government officials and many in the wider Spanish community and raised questions about gender inequality in sport.

His decision to go came after further blows to his position in the past few days.

A Spanish lawyer filed a complaint against Rubiales in the High Court on Friday against sexual assault and coercion.

It describes how after Spain won the World Cup, Hermoso held her head with both hands and kissed Hermoso on the mouth „without her consent”. .

Rubiales has said the kiss was mutual and consensual, and by Sunday he had received calls for his resignation from players, government officials and others.

Rubiales has been suspended from all football activities by FIFA for three months pending an investigation by football’s world governing body into his actions.

„After the swift suspension imposed by FIFA and the remaining proceedings opened against me, it is clear that I cannot return to my position,” Rubiales said in his statement.

„Insisting on waiting and sticking around… is not going to contribute anything positive to the federation or to Spanish football, among other things, because there are practical forces preventing my return,” he added.

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He also said he would step down as vice-president of UEFA, the European football governing body. He made his statement on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Reuters reached out to a representative of Hermoso for comment on Rubiales’ resignation, who did not return a phone call.

Hermoso, Spain’s all-time top scorer with 51 goals, currently plays for Mexican top-tier side Pachuca, where he will join in June 2022 following his second spell at Barcelona.

Spanish government ministers, who had been firmly behind Hermoso and called for Rubiales to go, celebrated his departure.

„The country of women is advancing faster and faster,” Spain’s interim labor minister, Yolanda Diaz, posted on X after news of Rubiales’ resignation. „Change and progress in our lives is inevitable. We are with you, Jenny, and all women.”

„It’s over,” Spain’s Equality Minister Irene Montero said.

The Spanish Football Federation said in a statement that he had resigned as president and UEFA vice-president.

„This has been communicated to the federal agency through a letter to (acting RFEF president) Pedro Rocha Junco,” the RFEF statement said.

FUTPRO, the Spanish women’s players’ association, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Although he stepped down as president of the federation, Rubiales continued to defend his version of events.

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„I will defend my honor, I will defend my innocence, I have faith in the future, I have faith in the truth,” in a message released with his statement on Sunday.

In an interview with journalist Piers Morgan on Sunday, Rubiales said he had decided to resign after speaking with family and friends.

„Lewis, you need to focus on your dignity and get on with your life. (Otherwise) you’re going to hurt a lot of people you love and the game you love,” he quoted them as saying.

Anita Kopilinska reports

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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