‘World Cup kiss’: Rubiales refuses to resign as Spanish FA president

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Luis Rubiales has refused to step down as president of the Spanish football federation following his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.

Rubiales, 46, kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England.

He had earlier grabbed his crotch as he celebrated at the final whistle.

“I will not resign, I will not resign,” he told an extraordinary general assembly called by the federation. “A social assassination is taking place.”

Rubiales apologised for the kiss on Monday before FIFA, world football’s governing body, opened disciplinary proceedings against him on Thursday.

On Friday he apologised for grabbing his crotch while celebrating in the VIP area in Stadium Australia, with Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter standing nearby.

Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales had been criticised by some Spanish government ministers and come under fire on social media (Photo: The Independent)

Widespread reports in Spain suggested Rubiales would announce his resignation on Friday – but instead he vowed to “fight until the end”.

“I’m ready to be vilified to defend my ideals,” he added. “I don’t deserve this manhunt I have been suffering.

“I want to apologise without reservation for everything that happened in the box, when in a moment of euphoria I grabbed that part of my body that you have already seen.

“Of course I have to apologise, to the Queen, and to everyone who has felt offended. I have been in countless boxes and I have never behaved like that.”

Kiss was ‘mutual and consensual’

Rubiales – who was elected to his role in May 2018 – was repeatedly applauded as he addressed the assembly, which the Spanish football federation (RFEF) called “as a matter of urgency”.

He defended his actions by saying he was trying to console Hermoso after she had a late penalty saved by Mary Earps.

“Jenni was the one who lifted me up,” he said. “I told her to ‘forget about the penalty’ and I said to her ‘a little peck?’ and she said ‘OK’.

“It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key. A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here?

“There are many people who, although silent, are supporting me. More than those who are against me.”

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Rubiales’ initial apology was “not enough” and second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz joined those calling on him to resign.

Futpro, a players’ union representing Hermoso, said the incident should not go unpunished while the 33-year-old forward said it would “defend my interests” in the matter.

The Pachuca player, who has 101 caps, initially said on Instagram she “didn’t like” Rubiales’ actions but a statement released later on her behalf defended him.

Rubiales also talked of extending the contract of controversial coach Jorge Vilda and offering him a salary of 500,000 euros.

Vilda, 42, survived a player revolt last September and the RFEF continued to back him, posting ‘VILDA IN’ on Spain’s official X account after the team’s World Cup triumph.

“Jorge Vilda, they wanted to do to you the same thing that they are doing to me now,” Rubiales said. “We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve been together.” (BBC Sport)

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