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Rediff.com  » Sports » Spanish soccer chief refuses to step down over kiss scandal

Spanish soccer chief refuses to step down over kiss scandal

Last updated on: August 25, 2023 17:37 IST
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With the demand of Luis Rubiales's resignation from government ministers, pressure continued to mount during the week after FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales and player Jenni Hermoso saying in statement that such acts "should never go unpunished".

IMAGE: Luis Rubiales, 46, said in his speech that Jenni Hermoso was the one who initiated physical contact by lifting him off the ground by his hips. He said he asked Hermoso is he could give her "a little peck" and she said "Ok". Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

Spanish football federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales was set for a showdown with the government after he refused to step down over his kiss on the lips of soccer player Jenni Hermoso after Spain's World Cup victory.

Speaking at an RFEF emergency assembly on Friday, Rubiales complai

ned that "false feminists" were "trying to kill me". He described the kiss as a "little peck" that was "spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual".

 

"Is a consensual peck going to take me out of here? I won't resign. I will fight until the end," Rubiales said, drawing applause from the predominantly male audience.

The government has said it will take the incident before a sport tribunal where, if it can be proven the kiss was non-consensual, he could be tried under a sexual violence law introduced by the Socialists last year.

His speech drew immediate condemnation from acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz, who described it as "unacceptable".

"The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office," Diaz wrote on social media.

Rubiales, 46, said in his speech that Hermoso was the one who initiated physical contact by lifting him off the ground by his hips. He said he asked Hermoso is he could give her "a little peck" and she said "Ok".

Criticism of Rubiales's behaviour has built throughout the week of the incident which occurred while the players were being handed their medals after they beat England 1-0 in the World Cup final in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday. As players filed past, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso by the head and planted a kiss on her mouth.

Rubiales was also seen grabbing his crotch in celebration while standing next to Queen Letizia in a box at the stadium, for which he apologized on Friday.

It culminated with FIFA opening disciplinary procedures against him on Thursday after Hermoso said in a statement on Wednesday that her union was working to defend her interests and that such acts should "never go unpunished".

Rubiales initially reacted defiantly to the backlash, describing his critics as "idiots". But he swiftly backtracked, posting an apology video recorded while flying back from Sydney.

As it became apparent that his apology had not gained traction -- with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez describing it as "not enough" -- regional leaders of the RFEF held a crisis meeting in Madrid on Thursday to discuss Rubiales's future and options for a potential successor, a source told Reuters.

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