BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The president of the Spanish soccer federation faces an emergency meeting of its general assembly on Friday amid media reports that he will hand in his resignation following an uproar for kissing a Women’s World Cup champion.
Resignation Speculation Surrounds Luis Rubiales
Luis Rubiales is expected to stand before representatives of Spain’s regional federations, clubs, players, coaches, and referees in Madrid at noon local time and local media say he is stepping down.
The federation has refused to comment on repeated requests from The Associated Press for confirmation of Rubiales’ decision to go that was reported late Thursday.
The Controversial Incident
Rubiales, 46, is under immense pressure to leave his post since he grabbed player Jenni Hermoso and kissed her on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
FIFA Initiates Disciplinary Case
FIFA, soccer’s global governing body and organizer of the Women’s World Cup, opened a disciplinary case against him on Thursday. Its disciplinary committee was tasked with weighing whether Rubiales violated its code relating to “the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”
That move by FIFA came after Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that Rubiales’ attempt to apologize, which came after he initially insulted his critics, was unconvincing and that “he must continue taking further steps” to be held accountable.
Spain’s Sports Governing Body to Investigate Complaints Against Rubiales
The Higher Council of Sports in Spain has assured the public that it will promptly address several formal complaints filed against its president, Rubiales. The complaints allege that Rubiales violated both Spain’s sports law and the federation’s code of conduct, which condemn sexist behavior. If found guilty, Rubiales could potentially be declared unfit to hold his office by the Administrative Court for Sports.
Adding insult to injury, Rubiales also made an inappropriate gesture during a recent victory celebration. He crudely grabbed his crotch in front of dignitaries, including Queen Letizia and Princess Sofía. This appalling act, combined with the unsolicited kiss incident, has brought immense shame upon Rubiales and tarnished the well-deserved success of the Spanish women’s team.
Isis Hermoso, a pivotal player in Spain’s victorious campaign, expressed her displeasure with the kiss incident during a live stream on social media. However, she admitted feeling powerless to intervene at the time.
Repercussions: A Lingering Controversy
Following the incident, the federation issued a statement through Hermoso attempting to downplay the seriousness of the situation. However, reports from Relevo.com suggested that Hermoso’s statement may have been coerced by the federation. The federation has vehemently denied these allegations.
In response, Hermoso released another statement through her players’ union, which vowed to advocate on her behalf. The union is determined to ensure that appropriate action is taken and that the offender does not escape consequences for his actions.
The Unpopular Position of Rubiales
Rubiales finds himself in a difficult situation as no major sports figure has publicly expressed support for him. To make matters worse, political parties from across the political spectrum are urging him to step down.