Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales plans to resign Friday after FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against him over his unsolicited kiss of player Jenni Hermoso, sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Rodrigo Faez.
Rubiales’ position had grown increasingly untenable since his behaviour after Spain won the World Cup by beating England in the final in Sydney this past Sunday.
The kiss forced on the lips of Hermoso has garnered most of the headlines, but he was also seen effusively hugging other Spain players and kissing them on the cheek.
Before that, immediately after Spain’s victory, he had also grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture with 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofía and Queen Letizia of Spain standing nearby.
Rubiales’ immediate response was to label those criticising his behaviour as “idiots,” although as the backlash grew, he later published an apology.
The incident sparked outrage within and outside Spain, with many, including government ministers, demanding his resignation.
Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said the apology was “insufficient and inadequate” as the pressure began to mount on Rubiales to step down from his role. Meanwhile, the acting second deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz, called for Rubiales to “resign” from his post after his actions.
High-ranking figures across the government and Spanish sport expressed similar opinions. Irene Montero, the minister for equality, described it as a “form of sexual violence,” with clubs also weighing in on the situation.
Pressure continued to mount during the week after FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales and after Hermoso, in a joint statement with her union, said that such acts “should never go unpunished.”
Lower-league side Sant Andreu were the first to demand Rubiales’ resignation via a statement, while Ángel Torres, president of LaLiga side Getafe, condemned his “deplorable behaviour” and said he should not remain as the RFEF president “for even a minute more.”
Internationally, Rubiales’ behaviour was condemned by United States forward Megan Rapinoe, who said the incident shows a “deep level of misogyny and sexism in that federation and in that man.”
Regional leaders of the RFEF held a crisis meeting in Madrid on Thursday to discuss Rubiales’ future and options for a potential successor, a source told Reuters.
The favourites to succeed Rubiales are Pedro Rocha, head of the Extremadura football federation, and Pablo Lozano, head of the Andalusia federation, the source said.
Rubiales, 46, was elected as president in 2018, and his tenure has been fraught with controversy and big decisions.
Just months into the job, he sacked Spain coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup after it emerged that he had a pre-agreement to join Real Madrid after the tournament.
Rubiales also faced a backlash for his decision to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia in collaboration with Gerard Piqué, who was an active player for Barcelona at the time. Rubiales vehemently denied that any conflict of interest existed in the deal.
There have also been complaints, from his uncle and the former director of his cabinet, that he used RFEF money to organise sex parties, and an investigation is ongoing into allegations that he used federation cash to take a woman on a trip to New York.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Footballers Association (AFE) called for him to be removed from his position for allegations that he spied on the president, David Aganzo — accusations Rubiales denies.
Last September, the RFEF was at the centre of a crisis when 15 players from the women’s national team said that, because of the federation’s lack of support and issues relating to the coaching team, they did not feel comfortable playing for Spain.
Rubiales’ response was to back the coach, Jorge Vilda, with the dispute disrupting Spain’s preparation for the World Cup. In the end, three of the 15 returned for the tournament after certain changes were made, seven refused to do so and five were not selected.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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