Spanish football chief Rubiales refuses to resign over player kiss

BARCELONA: Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales refused to resign today after a week of widespread criticism for his unsolicited kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso following Spain's Women's World Cup triumph.

"I will not resign, I will not resign, I will not resign," shouted Rubiales at an emergency meeting of the football federation.

"A consensual 'peck' is enough to get me out of here? I will fight until the end," he added.

Rubiales, 46, was expected to step down as president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) after government ministers and figures within sport demanded his resignation and world football's governing body Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings against him.

He said the pressure he has received this week from politicians and clubs was an attempt "to publicly assassinate me" and said he would defend himself by "taking action" against those people.

The RFEF chief claimed his kiss on Hermoso's lips was consensual and done in the same spirit as kissing his child.

"It was a spontaneous kiss, mutual, euphoric, and consensual," said Rubiales.

The stubborn RFEF chief railed against "false feminism" and said he had been "hunted" since taking the job in May 2018.

"When I make a mistake it hurts me and I ask for forgiveness without softening it, but I do not deserve this hunt that I have been suffering for five years, every day for five years.

"I'm going to keep fighting like my parents taught me, like my coaches, my teammates."

Rubiales referred to his critics and insisted his kiss could not be compared to sexual assault.

"For god's sake, what will women think who have really been sexually assaulted?" said Rubiales.

His refusal to resign and fiery speech prompted a rapid reaction from politicians.

"What we have seen today at the federation assembly is unacceptable," wrote second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz on social network X, formerly known as Twitter.

"The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office."

Spain's High Council of Sport (CSD) said earlier in the week they would take measures against Rubiales if the football federation failed to do so.

The president did apologise for grabbing his crotch during the celebrations of the 1-0 win against England in the final while standing next to Spanish Queen Letizia.

"I want to say sorry for the deeds that happened in a moment of euphoria, I grabbed that part of my body and did so looking at Jorge Vilda (the coach)," Rubiales said.

"I was so emotional, I lost control and I took my hands there."

Rubiales also said he had started the process of offering controversial Spain women's coach Jorge Vilda a new deal on a €500,000 (RM2.5 million) salary.

Spain arrived at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand shrouded in controversy, after 15 players refused to play because of disagreements with the federation and Vilda, although some relented and three formed part of the winning squad. --AFP

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