Luis Rubiales resigned from his top position as the president of the Spanish soccer federation, and as vice president of UEFA on Sunday.
This was because of culminating weeks of intense criticism stemming from an unwanted kiss he shared with Women’s World Cup winner Jennifer Hermoso.
He stated, “Today, I notified the interim president at 9:30 pm, Mr. Pedro Rocha, that I have resigned as President of RFEF.”
“I have also let him know that I have also resigned my position in UEFA so that my Vice-presidency position can be filled.” he added.
“To insist on waiting around and holding onto that won’t contribute anything positive, neither to the Federation nor to Spanish football. Among other things, because the powers that be will prevent my return.”
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed Rubiales’ resignation from his role as the head of the Spanish football association and as vice president of UEFA. The RFEF’s board of directors will now initiate the process to elect a successor.
Rubiales expressed his determination to clear his name amid what he described as “excessive persecution,” stating, “I have faith in the truth and I will do everything when it’s in my hands so that it prevails.”
The unwelcomed kiss
The controversy began with Rubiales’ unwelcomed kiss on Hermoso following the Spanish women’s team’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final on August 20.
This act led to widespread condemnation both in Spain and internationally.
Rubiales initially apologized and asserted that the kiss was “mutual,” a claim refuted by Hermoso, who stated that she did not consent to the kiss and did not feel respected.
As a result of the incident, FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales for 90 days while a disciplinary investigation is conducted.
Pedro Rocha has been serving as the interim president of the Spanish soccer federation.
The resignation of Rubiales has prompted reactions from Spanish authorities, including Irene Montero, the Spanish minister of equality, who succinctly stated on X, “It’s over.”
Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s second deputy prime minister, expressed her support for Jennifer Hermoso and the progress of feminism in Spain, writing on the platform,
“The feminist country is advancing faster and faster. The transformation and improvement of our lives is inevitable. We are with you, Jenni, and with all women.”
In response to Rubiales’ announcement, Jennifer Hermoso appeared in Mexico, where she plays for CF Pachuca Femenil.
She was warmly received by the crowd, and a large mural of her adorned the stadium. Hermoso wore her World Cup medal and acknowledged the fans.
The scandal surrounding Rubiales set off a crisis in Spanish soccer, with government officials urging his resignation.
Last week, the RFEF removed World Cup-winning manager Jorge Vilda from his role after a video emerged showing him appearing to inappropriately touch a female staff member during the Women’s World Cup Final.
He was replaced by Montse Tomé, the first woman to hold this position in Spanish national team history.
The controversy also prompted discussions about the prevalence of “macho culture” in Spain and sparked protests against sexual violence and sexism in the country.
The coaches of Spain’s women’s team resigned en masse, and over 80 Spanish soccer players expressed their support for Hermoso, stating that they would not return to the national team as long as the current leadership remained in place.
Despite Rubiales’ insistence that the kiss was consensual, Hermoso maintained that she did not consent to it and felt vulnerable and victimized. The federation initially defended Rubiales and threatened legal action against Hermoso.
Rubiales resisted calls to step down, but mounting pressure from players, politicians, and the sporting world made his position untenable.
All 23 members of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad and nearly 50 other professional female soccer players stated that they would not play for the national team until Rubiales resigned.
Spain’s national team’s next match is scheduled for September 22.
On Monday, all 19 regional presidents of Spain’s soccer federation called for Rubiales’ resignation following an emergency meeting.
Additionally, Spanish prosecutors announced the opening of an investigation into Rubiales, potentially leading to sexual aggression charges, after Hermoso filed an official complaint.