The Spanish Football Federation boss, who has come under fire after grabbing a member of the winning team and kissing him full on the lips at last weekend’s Women’s World Cup awards ceremony in Australia, insisted on Friday he would not resign the victim a “social assassination”.
News reports said federation boss Luis Rubiales would hand in his resignation as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation at 12 noon local time after five years at the helm, but instead took a defiant stance.
“I will not resign,” he said, adding that “I will fight to the end” and accused his critics of “false feminism”.
After Sunday’s World Cup final in Sydney, Mr Rubiales was caught on video kissing Jennifer Hermoso, a Spanish striker, and video posted after the game saw her appear to express dislike of the kissing incident and said, “Hey, but I didn’t like that!”
Mr Rubiales, who had only modestly apologized on Monday as the outrage grew, made a very different statement on Friday. Ms. Hermoso, he said, picked him up and “brought me close to her body.”
Ms Hermoso did not immediately respond to Mr Rubiales’ comments. Iker Casillasa retired goalkeeper who played for the men’s national team said in a social media post immediately after Mr Rubiales’ speech that his comments “elicit a shudder”.
It was a “free, mutual and consensual kiss,” he said, adding that he will take Yolanda Diaz and other prominent Spanish politicians to court after they called for his resignation. Ms. Diaz replied: “Mr. Rubiales still doesn’t know what he did.”
When video footage of the encounter initially circulated on social media and many Spaniards reacted with disgust, accusing him of continuing a long legacy of sexism in the sport, Mr Rubiales tried various approaches to defuse the controversy.
Before leaving Australia, his first reaction was that he had done nothing wrong. Of his critics, he said, “We shouldn’t care about idiots and stupid people.”
This led to further condemnation of his behavior in Spain, where the Minister for Culture and Sport demanded an explanation from him, pointing out that congratulating footballers by kissing them on the lips was unacceptable.
Other prominent politicians called for Mr Rubiales to step down, with the Equality Minister blaming him from sexual violence.
When Mr Rubiales returned to Spain it seemed clear that he was in trouble.
Mr Rubiales then said in a video broadcast by the federation on Monday afternoon: “I have to apologize,” he said. “I probably made a mistake.”
But Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that Mr Rubiales’ behavior was “unacceptable” and that his apology was “not enough”. Speculations kept piling up that the football boss was on thin ice.
A statement released by the Football Association on behalf of Ms Hermoso was also examined. She was quoted as saying about the football boss’s actions: “It was a completely spontaneous mutual gesture because of the great joy of having won a World Cup.”
But on Wednesday, Ms Hermoso, through her union, called for “action” to be taken against Mr Rubiales. And after receiving four complaints, Spain’s National Sports Council on Thursday threatened to disqualify him from public office for violating the country’s sports law on sexual violence if the federation didn’t fire him first.
FIFA, the world governing body of sport, has also initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Rubiales.
Support for Spanish regional football association presidents, which had previously dwindled, plummeted.
“It’s not the behavior of a federation president,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Source : www.nytimes.com