Spanish football president Luis Rubiales lost one of his last bastions of support after top officials in the federation he heads called for him to resign after kissing a player on the lips at the Women’s World Cup final.
(Bloomberg) — Spanish football president Luis Rubiales lost one of his last bastions of support after top officials in the federation he heads called for him to resign after kissing a player on the lips at the Women’s World Cup final.
The heads of the federation’s regional bodies withdrew their support after an emergency meeting on Monday in a scandal over gender inequality, which has soured the country’s victory. The next development could come on Tuesday when a Spanish sports court is expected to rule on a government complaint that could empower Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s administration to suspend Rubiales.
“After the latest developments and the unacceptable behavior that has caused great damage to the image of Spanish soccer, the presidents request that Luis Rubiales resign immediately,” they said in a late-night statement on Monday.
The announcement is a major blow for the 46-year-old. Many members of the mostly-male assembly had applauded as he delivered a defiant speech on Friday following an outcry over his actions at the World Cup final in Australia. Rubiales held Jennifer Hermoso’s head in his hands and kissed her on the lips as she and other players received medals for winning the title. He said the player had consented, but Hermoso rejected his explanation as “categorically false.”
Rubiales was suspended for 90 days on Saturday by FIFA, the global governing body, and the entire women’s squad has refused to play again for Spain until he’s gone. Rubiales has faced widespread condemnation from Spanish politicians as well as from other teams and players.
The regional associations technically control the Spanish Football Federation and their presidents pick the national chief. Many of the functionaries owe Rubiales their jobs, and the U-turn demonstrates that a key source of support has collapsed.
Spain’s sports court met on Monday to discuss whether it would accept the government’s complaint, but it hasn’t announced a decision after hours of deliberation. If accepted, the government can move to suspend Rubiales and plans to do so, Sports Secretary Victor Francos has said.
A global movement has emerged to support Hermoso and her teammates. Outrage in social media has coalesced around the phrase “se acabo” — which means “it’s over” — referring both to Rubiales and the broader issue of sexual harassment of women. Spain has strict legislation on sexual consent, outlined in a highly controversial law known as “Only Yes Means Yes.”
Rubiales still enjoys the backing of his mother, who began a hunger strike inside a church in the family’s hometown in southern Spain. She vowed to go without food until Hermoso retracts her statement.
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