The President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, has refused to back down from his position amidst mounting criticism. The embattled chief has been at the center of the storm following an incident during the Women’s World Cup celebration that has ignited outrage and discussions about consent, respect, and leadership.
Rubiales’ ordeal began when a video emerged showing him placing an unwanted kiss on Jennifer Hermoso, a star player of Spain’s victorious Women’s World Cup team. The incident occurred during the medal ceremony, sparking immediate backlash from various quarters. The President’s behavior was deemed inappropriate and disrespectful, prompting demands for accountability and action.
The mounting pressure culminated in an assembly convened on Friday to address the situation. Despite applause from some attendees, Rubiales’ explanation failed to quell the storm of criticism. Government officials, players, and even Spain’s acting second deputy prime minister demanded his resignation, citing the unacceptable nature of his behavior. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez asserted that Rubiales’ apology was “not enough.”
Facing criticism, Rubiales addressed the controversy head-on during the mentioned federation’s Extraordinary General Assembly. In a defiant speech that lasted nearly 30 minutes, he vehemently defended his actions. He portrayed the kiss as “mutual” and characterized the backlash as an “unjust” campaign driven by what he labeled as “fake feminism.” Rubiales, unyielding, declared, “I will not resign,” multiple times, leaving no room for doubt about his stance.
“… the thing with the kiss, which I said was free, was mutual, which was with consent, but obviously, I still have to ask for forgiveness for the context in which it occurred. I’m not living outside of the world and I know that I made a mistake in this,” he said. “But do we think that this merits the witch hunt which I’m suffering? Do you really believe that? Another thing is what someone has to say publicly, but do you think it merits this hunt? So that they ask for my resignation? Is it so serious so that I have to leave having done the best leadership in the history of Spanish football? Do you think I have to resign? Well, I’m going to tell you something: I’m not going to resign! I’m not going to resign! I won’t resign! I’m not going to resign! I’m not going to resign!”
However, his words were not without consequences. Many within the Spanish soccer community, including players and officials, decried his speech. Alexia Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner and Hermoso’s international teammate, labeled Rubiales’ address as “unacceptable.” The controversy deepened as other players and figures from the sport openly expressed their disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Miguel Galán, president of the CENAFE coaching school, also formally lodged a complaint against Rubiales with Spain’s Superior Sports Council (CSD).
Amid the uproar, Rubiales maintained that the kiss was a “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric, and consensual” gesture.
As the situation unfolded, the battle lines became more defined. On one side stood a fervent President refusing to step down and defending his actions as well-intentioned, albeit misunderstood. On the other side, a chorus of voices from within the soccer community and beyond demanded accountability and a reckoning for what they perceived as an act lacking in decorum and respect.
In the world of gymnastics, Simone Biles continues to etch her name into the annals of history. With each breathtaking routine, she defies gravity, expectations,