24th February 2024
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‘Harassment, assault … denigrating Spanish sport’ – pressure grows on Rubiales to resign

The Spanish government has demanded transparency and urgent action from the country’s Football Federation (RFEF) against its president, Luis Rubiales, over his forced kiss on the lips of Jenni Hermoso, a Women’s World Cup player on Sunday.

Spain’s acting deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz, has called for his resignation for ‘denigrating Spanish sport’, adding that ‘machismo must not go unpunished’. Others have called his actions ‘harassment’ and ‘assault’. ALSO READ: Calls for Spain’s football chief to resign after kissing player on lips

Rubiales, 46, initially attacked his critics before eventually apologising but the criticism of his behaviour has not abated.

The RFEF on Tuesday called an emergency meeting for Friday and activated an internal investigation into the incident, amid mounting pressure to take action against Rubiales.

‘The Royal Spanish Football Federation convenes, as a matter of urgency, an Extraordinary General Assembly for Friday 25 August, starting at 12 noon, at the headquarters of the Ciudad del Fútbol de las Rozas,’ a short statement read.

‘In addition, and based on the latest events that occurred during the awards ceremony for the Women’s World Cup won by the Spanish National Team last Sunday in Sydney, we would like to inform you that the internal proceedings of the Federation regarding integrity issues are open, as well as all other applicable protocols.’

Victor Francos, Spain’s secretary of sport and president of the country’s sports council (CSD), said the council would take action if the RFEF did not. They can raise the case to Spain’s Administrative Court for Sports.

‘I imagine that what the responsible people will do is talk to the two parties involved and issue a report,’ Francos told radio station Cadena Ser.

‘I have personally told the federation this report has to be transparent and urgent, because, if it is not, obviously we are obliged to take the corresponding additional measures.’

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Tuesday that Rubiales’ apology for the kiss was insufficient. ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez: Women’s World Cup champions are an inspiration for youth.

‘What we saw is unacceptable,’ Sánchez said. ‘And the apologies offered by Mr. Rubiales are not sufficient, I would call them inappropriate, so he must continue taking further steps to clarify what we all saw.’

‘The government has said what it has said – it is an unacceptable act, more steps (are happening) and we will use our instruments to prove transparency in the process and the corresponding resolution, if the time comes,’ added Francos.

Rubiales has come under fire across the world as well as in Spain, with some Spanish clubs calling for him to step down.

‘What Rubiales has to do is resign, his behaviour has been deplorable,’ said Getafe’s president Angel Torres on Wednesday. ‘He cannot continue for a minute more as president of the federation.’

American forward Megan Rapinoe, the world’s highest-profile women’s player, was similarly scathing in an interview with The Atlantic on Tuesday.

‘What kind of upside-down world are we in? On the biggest stage, where you should be celebrating, Jenni has to be physically assaulted by this guy,’ said Rapinoe.

She referred to Rubiales’ behaviour at the final as portraying ‘a deep level of misogyny and sexism’.

‘He has harassed and, without any doubt, assaulted a woman,’ Yolanda Díaz, acting second Deputy Prime Minister and leader of political party Sumar, said on Tuesday, adding that Rubiales should resign.

‘The (sports council) must act so that machismo does not go unpunished,’ added Díaz on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday, saying that Sumar had reported Rubiales to the body.

On the return flight from Sydney to Madrid on Monday, and according to Relevo media, Rubiales had ‘begged’ Jenni Hermoso to appear in an apologetic video with him about the incident, but she refused. The team’s coach, Jorge Vilda, reportedly also tried to mediate with the player’s relatives during the flight.

‘This is a boss putting pressure on a worker to cover up the abuse she has suffered. It is very serious and denigrates Spanish sport. Rubiales must resign immediately,’ Díaz said.

Rubiales has also been critised for his vulgar celebrations after the final whistle in Sunday’s World Ciup Final, grabbing his balls and with wild gesturing, while standing only two seats away from Queen Letizia

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