Luis Rubiales Quits in Wake of World Cup Kiss Scandal – Luis Rubiales has stepped down from his position as the leader of Spain’s football federation nearly a month following an incident where he forcibly kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the celebrations of Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory. This incident sparked anger, disbelief, and ignited a nationwide and worldwide discussion on gender discrimination.
Initially, Rubiales attempted to downplay the controversy surrounding the unwanted kiss that occurred after Spain’s 1-0 win against England in Sydney. He disparaged his critics, labeling them as foolish and unintelligent individuals. This event generated international outrage, resulted in his temporary suspension by Fifa, and led Hermoso to file a criminal complaint, accusing him of sexual assault.
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During Sunday night, Piers Morgan shared a preview clip from an upcoming TalkTV interview scheduled for Tuesday, in which Rubiales revealed his intention to resign. He stated: “I cannot continue my work. My father, my daughters, I spoke with them.” “They know it is not a question about me, some friends very close to me, and they say to me: Luis, now you have to focus on your dignity and to continue your life. Probably you are going to damage people you love.”
Subsequently, Rubiales issued a resolute statement in which he declared his decision to resign from his role as the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation and his position as a Uefa vice-president. “After the rapid suspension by Fifa, and the rest of the proceedings against me, it’s clear that I cannot return to my post,” he said. “Trying to hang on in hope of clinging on won’t result in anything positive for either the federation or Spanish football.”
The 46-year-old former player also suggested “the powers that be would get in the way of my return”, adding: “I don’t want Spanish football to be damaged because of a campaign as disproportionate as this one.” He said he had decided to quit because he believed his departure would help bring stability to Spain, Portugal and Morocco’s joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. Rubiales said he planned to clear his name.
“I believe in the truth and I will do everything in my power to make sure it prevails.” He said that although his family and those close him had been made to suffer “the effects of an excessive persecution” and “many lies”, he felt the public knew the truth. Following the initial public outcry, his mother, Ángeles Béjar, embarked on a hunger strike in solidarity with her son. She had taken refuge inside a church in her hometown of Motril, located in southern Spain, for several days as a form of protest against the treatment her son had received.
Pressure on Rubiales had intensified on Wednesday after Hermoso filed a criminal complaint against him. The prosecutor’s office said that Hermoso’s testimony, given one day earlier, would be processed “as soon as possible”. Under a recently passed sexual consent law, Rubiales could face a fine or between one and four years in prison if found guilty of sexual assault, it added.
In a statement published five days after the incident, Hermoso said the incident had left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of aggression.” She described the kiss as an “impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part.” Her statement came after several days of intense controversy, during which Rubiales strongly criticized his detractors before issuing an apology that was widely perceived as insincere.
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Subsequently, he attempted to depict the kiss as a consensual act. Shortly thereafter, Fifa provisionally suspended Rubiales and issued orders for him to avoid any contact with Hermoso and her close associates. In the following days, as anger over the forced kiss grew, along with another incident of Rubiales grabbing his crotch while in the presence of Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofía, during La Roja’s World Cup victory, the federation demanded that he resign.
It also sacked the Spanish coach, Jorge Vilda, who was one of many officials who had applauded a defiant speech Rubiales made to the federation in which he said “I will not resign” five times and hit out at “false feminism” while also seeking to portray himself as a victim and recast the kiss as “a peck.” The episode garnered international attention and sparked a worldwide discussion on sexism and the misuse of authority.