Spanish soccer president refuses to resign despite controversial kiss at women's World Cup

Luis Rubiales (l)

Facing his possible removal from office, the president of the Spanish soccer federation refused to resign Friday, August 25, 2023, despite an uproar for kissing a player on the lips without her consent after the Women’s World Cup final.

Luis Rubiales defiantly told an emergency general assembly of the federation “I won’t resign” four times in quick succession and claimed he was a victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists.”

Several Spanish media outlets had reported on Thursday that Rubiales was planning to step down after grabbing and kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the award ceremony after Spain beat England in the final in Sydney, Australia, marring the title celebrations in front of a global audience.

Instead, he said the kiss was “mutual and with the consent” of Hermoso and painted himself as a victim. He received various applause from the overwhelming male assembly.

Among those who applauded his decision to cling to power were women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda and men’s national team coach Luis de la Fuente.

Hermoso had said in a video streamed on social media after the kiss last Sunday that “I didn’t like it, but what can I do?” Later, her players’ union issued a statement on her behalf, saying that it would defend her interests and ensure that the act “does not go unpunished.”

The federation’s first attempt to respond to the scandal was a statement it released in the name of Hermoso in which she downplayed the incident. Later, a local media report by sports website said that the federation had coerced her into making the statement. The federation has denied this to The Associated Press.
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