Luis Rubiales, the head of Spanish soccer, has rebuffed calls for his resignation amid a controversy surrounding his kiss on World Cup star Jenni Hermoso’s lips following Spain’s victory in the World Cup.
This incident has triggered condemnation from players and government officials, who perceive the gesture as a manifestation of unacceptable macho behavior.
Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Rubiales defiantly dismissed demands for his departure, accusing “false feminists” of attempting to undermine him.
Characterizing the kiss as a “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric, and consensual” peck, Rubiales expressed his determination to remain in his role despite the uproar.
Criticism of his actions had been growing throughout the week since the incident transpired during the medal ceremony after Spain’s triumphant 1-0 victory over England in the World Cup final held in Sydney, Australia.
The Spanish government announced its intention to bring the matter before a sports tribunal, potentially invoking a sexual violence law passed by the ruling Socialists last year if non-consent is established.
In response, Rubiales defended his actions, citing Hermoso’s apparent initiation of physical contact by lifting him.
According to his account, he sought permission for the kiss, which Hermoso allegedly granted.
The controversy has ignited gender-related discussions within Spain, a country that has seen significant activism on matters of sexual abuse and violence in recent years.
The coalition government, led by the Socialists, has spearheaded legal reforms aimed at addressing various gender equality issues, encompassing equal pay, reproductive rights, sex work, and transgender rights.
Rubiales’ actions also came under scrutiny for his celebratory gesture at the event when he was seen grabbing his crotch while standing next to Queen Letizia in a stadium box.
He subsequently apologized for his conduct. FIFA initiated disciplinary procedures against him, and the football players’ union, FIFPro, appealed to UEFA, where Rubiales holds the position of vice president, to launch similar actions.
Despite widespread expectations of resignation, Rubiales addressed an assembly of key federation members and revealed his intention to remain in his role.
Rafael del Amo, president of the national committee for women’s football, was the sole member to object, opting to step down from his positions, including vice presidency of the federation. Rubiales’ stance has ignited mixed sentiments among the members, with some expressing the belief that the issue has been magnified beyond proportion.