Top officials within the Spanish Football Federation have urged the suspended President, Luis Rubiales, to step down due to his conduct at the Women’s World Cup.
This includes an incident where he forcibly kissed Jenni Hermoso, a player in the Spanish Women’s World Cup team, causing widespread indignation. The leaders of the regional divisions forming the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued this demand through a joint statement on Monday.
“After recent events and the unacceptable behaviour that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents request that Luis Rubiales resign immediately as president of the RFEF,” said the federation (RFEF) in a statement following a meeting between the regional presidents.
The presidents expressed their support for interim leader Pedro Rocha, who initiated the meeting, to guide the organization towards “engaging in dialogue and fostering reconciliation with all football entities.”
The statement from RFEF also emphasized the need for a comprehensive transformation in the management of the federation.
“We will urge the relevant authorities to carry out a profound and imminent organisational restructuring in strategic positions of the federation in order to make way for a new stage in the management of Spanish football,” the regional presidents said.
In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors from Spain’s highest criminal court revealed that they had initiated a preliminary inquiry into Rubiales’s kiss, based on the possibility that it might amount to a “sexual assault” under legal terms.
During the past week, Hermoso expressed that she perceived herself as the target of an “assault” and stated that the kiss, occurring during the medal ceremony following Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup in Sydney on August 20, was not consensual.
According to the prosecutors’ statement, they plan to reach out to Hermoso, providing her an opportunity to potentially initiate legal action within a 15-day period.
Rubiales, aged 46, has maintained a stance of resistance in relation to the kiss incident. During a federation meeting on Friday, where many anticipated his resignation, Rubiales chose not to step aside. Instead, he declared that the kiss was “unplanned, mutual, jubilant, and consensual.”
RFEF issued a statement saying the embattled president would “defend himself legally in the competent bodies” to prove “his complete innocence“.
Additionally, the Associated Press news agency revealed on Monday that the Spanish federation had formally requested the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to impose a suspension on the federation’s participation in international tournaments due to perceived government intervention linked to the Rubiales incident.
This suspension, if enacted, would lead to the exclusion of Spanish teams from tournaments like the Champions League. To certain observers, this unprecedented appeal appeared to be designed to incite support from Spain’s football enthusiasts, influential clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the men’s national team, in favor of endeavors to retain Rubiales’s position.
International football governing bodies have established enduring regulations that prohibit national governments from meddling in the operations of domestic football associations.
In their statement issued on Monday, the regional presidents of RFEF, nevertheless, urged the football federation’s acting president, Rocha, to promptly retract the appeal made to UEFA.
This call comes as Spain’s prominent clubs are slated to participate in UEFA’s Champions League group-stage draw on Thursday. Additionally, the men’s national team has matches scheduled for September 8 and 12, pertaining to the qualifiers for the 2024 European Championship.