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After facing a review by FIFA’s disciplinary committee for forcibly kissing Spain player Jenni Hermoso, Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales is reportedly set to step down.
According to ESPN’s Rodrigo Faez (h/t Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens), Rubiales plans to resign on Friday after his “position had grown increasingly untenable” following his actions while celebrating Spain’s win over England in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.
In addition to forcing a kiss on Hermoso while handing out medals for Spain’s victory, Rubiales also was seen “effusively hugging and kissing other Spain players on the cheek,” per Marsden and Llorens. Before that, he grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture while standing in close proximity to 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofía and Queen Letizia of Spain.
In the wake of criticism following those incidents, Rubiales was defiant and called those criticizing him “idiots.” He later issued a video apology, but Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, called it “insufficient and inadequate.” Multiple government and Spanish sport officials began to call for his resignation, and Hermoso released a joint statement with her union that said such acts “should never go unpunished.”
A crisis meeting was held by regional leaders of the RFEF in Madrid on Thursday in which Rubiales’ future was discussed as well as potential options for his replacement. Pedro Rocha, head of the Extremadura football federation, and Pablo Lozano, head of the Andalusia federation, are reportedly the favorites to succeed him.
Rubiales was elected as president of the RFEF in 2018, but his tenure has been rife with controversy. He was accused of spying on Spanish Players’ Association president David Aganzo, though he denied the allegation. Last September, he backed Spanish women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda in the wake of 15 players complaining that they didn’t feel comfortable playing for him.