The head of Spain’s football association said he will not resign following widespread criticism over his behavior during celebrations of the country’s Women’s World Cup victory.
(Bloomberg) — The head of Spain’s football association said he will not resign following widespread criticism over his behavior during celebrations of the country’s Women’s World Cup victory.
Speaking at a meeting of the association’s general assembly, Luis Rubiales said several times that he doesn’t plan to resign because the kiss he gave Jennifer Hermoso, a star Spanish player, after the national team’s victory in the cup was “consensual.” Rubiales claimed he asked Hermoso for permission to kiss her on the lips and she said “ok.”
“It was a spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual kiss,” he said.
Players, politicians and the media have spent the week pushing for Rubiales’ resignation after he grabbed Hermoso’s head and kissed her after the team’s victory in the World Cup final Aug. 20. He also faced backlash for grabbing his crotch during the match while celebrating a goal in the director’s box, where he was standing next to Spain’s Queen Letizia and one of her daughters. He did apologize for that.
“I am willing to be vilified to defend my ideals and to say the truth,” he said. The chief of the Spanish FA also said he will take legal action against the politicians that publicly criticized his conduct, saying it was vexatious, non-consensual and a sexual assault. “For god’s sake, what will a woman think that has really been sexually assaulted.”
A union that represents Hermoso called his actions “unacceptable,” while FIFA — the sport’s global governing body — opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales.
Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez joined the criticism earlier this week, saying it showed that the country is still a long way from achieving equality, and the Spanish women’s league filed a complaint. Star US player Megan Rapinoe said the episode made her “think about how much we are required to endure,” and the obscene gestures signal “such a deep level of misogyny and sexism in that federation and in that man.”
Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero posted on X, the platform formally known as Twitter, that Spain “no longer accepts sexists attitudes nor allows women to be denigrated.”
The scandal is the latest controversy over equality in sports, as women’s football continues to suffer from a large gender pay gap and funding shortages, with broadcasting rights and sponsorships lagging those of their male counterparts.
The Women’s World Cup had already generated scrutiny of the sport’s leaders after FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that the world’s best women’s players can achieve pay equality if they “convince us men” first.
Rubiales initially called the kissing issue “nonsense,” but later issued a video response in which he said he needed to apologize because people outside the team did not understand that there was “no bad faith from either party in the kiss.”
“Fake feminism doesn’t seek justice or truth, doesn’t care about people”, said Rubiales on Friday, who added that he didn’t deserve the hunt he’s been suffering since he took the job five years ago. “There is being a social execution against me”
Rubiales has previously faced criticism for his handling of complaints that led a number of Spain’s star women’s players to boycott the World Cup over their refusal to play for coach Jorge Vilda due to his management style.
(Updates with more comments from fifth paragraph, tweet from Budget Minister.)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.