After three weeks of controversy surrounding claims that he gave a women’s national team player an uninvited kiss as they celebrated their World Cup triumph last month, Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation, resigned from his position on Sunday.
In a statement, Rubiales said that his position had become unsustainable. The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) subsequently confirmed that Rubiales had handed a resignation letter to interim president Pedro Rocha.
During the World Cup victory in Sydney on August 20, his kiss of Jenni Hermoso, a player, angered players, government officials, and many in the larger Spanish culture and sparked concerns about sexism in sports.
His decision to leave was motivated by recent setbacks to his standing.
On Friday, a Spanish prosecutor complained to the High Court against Rubiales for coercion and sexual assault.
The accusation details how Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips “without her consent” while holding her head with both hands after Spain overcame England to win the World Cup. This happened after Hermoso decided to file a criminal complaint about the incident earlier in the week.
Rubiales maintained that the kiss was mutual and consensual, and up until Sunday, he resisted demands for his resignation from athletes, government officials, and others.
In addition, FIFA had placed Rubiales on a three-month suspension from any football-related activity while it looked into his behavior.
I will not be able to return to my post after the swift suspension implemented by FIFA and the remainder of the processes started against me, Rubiales stated in his statement.
“Insisting on waiting and clinging… will not benefit the Federation or Spanish football, according to the statement. In addition, there are de facto forces that will block my return, he said.
He said that he had also resigned as vice president of UEFA, the governing body of European soccer. He published his message on X, the social media site that replaced Twitter.
Reuters contacted Hermoso’s agent to comment about Rubiales’ departure, but they did not answer the phone.
Hermoso, the greatest scorer in Spain’s history with 51 goals, is presently a player for Pachuca of Mexico, where she went in June 2022 after her second stint with Barcelona.
Ministers of the Spanish government, who had backed Hermoso and others who had called for Rubiales to resign, rejoiced at his departure.
Following the departure of Rubiales, Spain’s interim labor minister, Yolanda Diaz, wrote on X, “The feminist country is advancing faster and faster.” Life must change and become better; that much is certain. Jenni, we stand behind you and all females.
Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister for Equality, said, “It’s over.”
In a statement, the Spanish Football Federation announced that Rubiales had left both positions—president and vice-president of UEFA.
The federal body was informed of this, according to the RFEF statement, “through a letter to (acting RFEF president) Pedro Rocha Junco.”
Reuters’ request for comment was not immediately answered by the Spanish women’s players association FUTPRO.
Rubiales maintained his version of events while resigning as the federation’s leader.
His remark on Sunday was accompanied by the promise, “I will protect my honor. I’ll stand up for my innocence. I’m optimistic about the future. I believe in the truth.
In a Sunday interview with journalist Piers Morgan, Rubiales said he decided to quit after consulting with his family and friends.
“Luis, keep your dignity in mind and go on with your life. He described them as stating, “(Otherwise) you’ll probably be hurting more of the people you love and the sport you love.”