Spanish soccer boss Luis Rubiales on Friday refused to resign for grabbing star player Jenni Hermoso’s head and kissing her on the lips after Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory, leading the national team to mutiny and the government to denounce his “macho actions”.
In a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union, all 23 of the cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as 32 other squad members, said they would not play internationals while Rubiales remains head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
In the same statement, Hermoso denied Rubiales’ contention that the kiss he gave her at the medal ceremony after Spain beat England 1-0 in the final in Sydney, Australia, was consensual.
“I do not tolerate it when my word is put into doubt and less so when words that I have not said are invented,” she wrote.
Later, in a statement on social media on Friday, Hermoso added: “I felt vulnerable and a victim of aggression. I was simply not respected.”
She said she had been put under “continuous pressure to justify Mr Rubiales’ actions” by the RFEF. She added that the incident was “the final straw” in a long list of situations that players had been denouncing for years.
The federation, which has not responded to her latest comments, called an emergency meeting on Friday at which Rubiales had been widely expected to stand down. But instead he said repeatedly that he would not quit and complained that “false feminists” were “trying to kill me”.
He called the kiss a “little peck” that was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”. He also claimed that he asked Hermoso if he could kiss her and that she said “OK”.
“Is a consensual peck going to take me out of here? I won’t resign. I will fight until the end,” said Rubiales, 46, drawing applause from the predominantly male audience.
The comments and reaction from the audience were widely scorned on social media.
Criticism of Rubiales’ behaviour after Spain’s win has built throughout the week, and acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz called his speech on Friday “unacceptable”.
She wrote on social media: “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”
Acting Equality Minister Irene Montero said the state prosecutor and the state-run sports council CSD should act to protect Hermoso.