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Luis Rubiales resigns as RFEF president

46-year-old says he will defend his innocence following controversy over him kissing Jenni Hermoso.

11 September 2023 PA

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Luis Rubiales has announced he has resigned as Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president following the controversy over him kissing Jenni Hermoso.

Rubiales kissed the player on the lips during the trophy presentation after Spain’s victory over England in last month’s 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup final, but Hermoso said the kiss was not consensual.

Fifa suspended Rubiales pending an investigation into his behaviour, and Hermoso submitted a complaint to the national prosecutor’s office earlier this week which is now with Spain’s high court.

In a statement on his unverified X account on Sunday evening, Rubiales said he had informed Pedro Rocha, who has been acting as RFEF president while he was suspended, that he was resigning, with the same applying to his position as a Uefa vice president.

The 46-year-old wrote: “After the rapid suspension carried out by Fifa, plus the rest of proceedings open against me, it is evident that I will not be able to return to my position.

“Insisting on waiting and holding on is not going to contribute to anything positive, neither to the federation nor to Spanish football.”

He added: “I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power to prevail.

“My daughters, my family and the people who love me have suffered the effects of excessive persecution, as well as many falsehoods, but it is also true that on the street, more and more every day, the truth is prevailing.”

As well as the statement, Rubiales also tweeted: “I will defend my honour. I will defend my innocence. I have faith in the future. I have faith in the truth. Thanks to all.”

At a similar time to his social media post appearing, a clip of Rubiales being interviewed by Piers Morgan was also released in which he said: “About my resignation – yes, I am going to do (it). Of course I cannot continue my work.

“My father, my daughters, I spoke with them…and some friends very close to me, and they say to me ‘Luis, now you have to focus on your dignity and to continue your life, because if not, probably you are going to damage people you love, and the sport you love’

“In this situation now, (it is) the thing I have to do.”

Rubiales has been widely condemned for his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney on 20th August, which as well as kissing Hermoso included grabbing his crotch in celebration while standing alongside Spain’s Queen Letizia and 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia in the VIP box.

After apologising for his actions in a video statement issued the next day, Rubiales then on 25th August described the kiss as “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual” and repeatedly insisted he would not resign while speaking in front of representatives of Spain’s regional federations, clubs, players, coaches and referees in Madrid.

Eighty-one players, including every member of the Women’s World Cup-winning squad, subsequently indicated their unavailability for the national team while Rubiales remained in post.

On 26th August he was banned by Fifa from all soccer-related activities for an initial period of 90 days, and the coaching staff of Spain women’s team, with the notable exception of manager Jorge Vilda, resigned en masse.

On Tuesday, Vilda – concerns over whose coaching methods and regime were reported to have been a key factor in 15 Spain players refusing to play for the national team last year – was sacked and the RFEF apologised for the “enormous damage” caused by Rubiales’ actions.

Hermoso formally submitted a complaint about Rubiales to Spain’s national prosecutor’s office on the same day.

On Friday a complaint of sexual assault and an allegation of coercion was then filed by the office to the high court.

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