Spanish football federation stands by Rubiales over kiss-gate

He has faced massive criticism following his unsolicited kiss on Spain's Jenni Hermoso's lips

By Web Desk
August 26, 2023
Rubiales said on Friday that he won’t step down as RFEF chief - AFP

Spain's football federation will take legal action to defend its president, Luis Rubiales, despite massive criticism following his unsolicited kiss on Spain's Jenni Hermoso lips after the team's victory in the FIFA Women's World Cup final.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the federation claimed that it would show that lies have been spread about what happened to Hermoso.

Rubiales said on Friday that he won’t step down as RFEF chief over his actions last Sunday in Sydney and called his kiss "spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual".

Meanwhile, Hermoso countered Rubiales by stating that she didn’t consent to the kiss and felt "vulnerable and the victim of an aggression".

She was also back by the Spanish government, who strongly denounced Rubiales’ actions and is trying to get him suspended using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal.

The Spain women's team has also mutinied. In a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union on Friday evening, all 23 of the cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as 32 other squad members, said they would not play internationals while Rubiales remains head of the federation.

In the same statement, Hermoso denied Rubiales' contention that the kiss he gave her was consensual, writing, "I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and, of course, in no case did I seek to lift the president".

In its statement early on Saturday, the federation said: "The RFEF and the President, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the FUTPRO Union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions."

"Where there is rule of law ... opinions are counteracted with facts and evidence, and lies are rebutted in court."

"The RFEF and the President will show each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself," it said.

The statement was accompanied by four photos of the event last Sunday that it said illustrated Rubiales' contention that Hermoso lifted him by the hips.

Reuters could not immediately reach an official of the FUTPRO union by telephone for comment.

Rubiales had been widely expected to resign at an emergency meeting of the federation on Friday. Instead he said repeatedly that he would not quit and complained that "false feminists" were "trying to kill me".

Acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz called his speech "unacceptable". She wrote on social media: "The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office."

Gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain in recent years. Tens of thousands of women have taken part in street marches protesting against sexual abuse and violence.

The Socialist-led coalition government has presided over legal reforms including around equal pay, abortion, sex work and transgender rights.

Rubiales' comments and the supportive reaction he got from many in the audience at the federation meeting on Friday were widely scorned on social media. The losing England national team said: "We all stand with you, @jennihermoso and all players of the Spanish team".

— Additional input from Reuters