Luis Rubiales claimed he is the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists” as he refused to resign as Spanish FA president for kissing Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s Women’s World Cup final victory on Sunday.
Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), embraced the forward before kissing her on the lips during the medal ceremony following the team’s 1-0 win against England in Sydney.
After initially calling his critics “idiots”, Rubiales apologised on Monday and it was expected he would bow to the pressure of the growing calls for him to stand down.
However, he shocked the footballing world in an extraordinary address to an emergency general assembly of the Spanish Football Federation that lasted over half an hour on Friday as he shouted, “I will not resign” repeatedly.
What happened at Rubiales’ shocking press conference?
- He insisted repeatedly that he would not resign
- Said his kiss of Hermoso was “spontaneous” and “consensual”
- Claimed he is the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists”
- Threatened to sue his accusers
- Said he will offer women’s head coach Jorge Vilda a new four-year contract
Rubiales, who is now under investigation by FIFA, also said of the incident: “The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters.”
Hermoso had said in a video streamed on social media after the kiss that “I didn’t like it, but what can I do?”
The Spanish players’ union issued a statement on Hermoso’s behalf on Wednesday saying it would defend her interests and ensure that the act “does not go unpunished”.
Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias, who made his debut for the national side last year and was in Luis de la Fuente’s last squad, has said he will not play for his country again “until things change and this type of act does not go unpunished”.
In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, the 30-year-old wrote: “As a footballer and as a person I don’t feel represented by what happened today. Wearing the Spanish national team shirt is one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my career.
“I don’t know if at some point I will be an option again, but I have made the decision not to return to the national team until things change and this type of act does not go unpunished.”
Before the kiss, Rubiales had also grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture from the section of dignitaries at the stadium, with Spain’s Queen Letizia and the 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia standing nearby.
“I apologise for my mistakes,” he added. “I’m going to continue fighting as my parents and my coaches taught me. Those who know me, know that we are going to get to the end.”
Rubiales’ speech was regularly interrupted by applause from the crowd and ended with a standing ovation – with Spain Women’s head coach Jorge Vilda and De la Fuente, the men’s head coach, among those on their feet.
However, Rubiales’ comments were not well-received by a number of former Spain internationals, with David De Gea taking to X to write: “My ears are bleeding.”
Former Spain captain Iker Casillas called Rubiales’ speech “embarrassing”, and added in another message: “We should spend these 5 days talking about our girls! Of the joy they gave us all.”
Spain’s second deputy prime minister, Yolanda Diaz, said in a post on X that the events at Friday’s general assembly had been “unacceptable” and said the government “must act and take urgent measures”.
“Impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office,” her post concluded.
FIFA, in opening proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday, said it remained committed to “respecting the integrity of all individuals, and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary”.
It said Rubiales’ conduct may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs one and two of the FIFA disciplinary code.
That section of the code covers “offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play”.
The code cites examples of behaviour which could lead to disciplinary measures being taken, including “insulting a natural or legal person in any way, especially by using offensive gestures, signs or language” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute”.