News & Current Affairs

Spanish Football Association President Luis Rubiales Resigns Following Jenni Hermoso Scandal

By Azeezat Okunlola | Sep 11, 2023
Following mounting backlash and criticism for kissing Spain's forward Jenni Hermoso at the Women's World Cup final presentation ceremony, Luis Rubiales has officially resigned as president of the Spanish Football Federation. This comes after former midfielder, Montse Tome, the first woman to hold this position, was named as successor to Jorge Vilda, the now-dismissed coach of the Spanish women's national team.
Hermoso, now 33 years old, claimed in court last Tuesday that the kiss she received after Spain's victory over England was not voluntary. In a statement, Rubiales said he had resigned from his position as the federation's acting president to Pedro Rocha. It was on Piers Morgan's show that he broke the news that he would have to stop working.
The 46-year-old has also left his post on UEFA’s executive committee as vice president. Overshadowing Spain's World Cup victory, the fallout from the kiss has engulfed Spanish football in recent weeks, with Rubiales ignoring calls for his resignation.
Following Hermoso's testimony on Tuesday, a prosecutor filed a complaint against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion with Spain's high court on Friday. Despite Rubiales' claims that the kiss was "mutual" and "consensual," the international soccer federation Fifa suspended him temporarily.
"After the quick suspension carried out by Fifa, plus the rest of open proceedings against me, it is evident that I will not be able to return to my position," Rubiales' statement read. "Insisting on waiting and holding on is not going to contribute to anything positive, neither to the federation nor to Spanish football."
Rubiales expressed optimism that Spain's joint bid with Morocco and Portugal to host the 2030 World Cup would be strengthened by his departure. A total of 81 players, including all 23 World Cup champions, announced they would not represent Spain again as long as Rubiales was coach.
Protesters gathered at the federation's headquarters last month to demand Rubiales' resignation, and he has received criticism from politicians, football players, and celebrities.
"The feminist country is advancing faster and faster," acting Spanish Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said on X (formerly Twitter)."The transformation and improvement of our lives is inevitable. We are with you, Jenni, and with all women."
When asked by Morgan what convinced him to leave, Rubiales said he discussed it with his loved ones and took their advice.
'Luis, you need to focus on your dignity and to continue your life because if not, you are going to damage people you love and the sport you love,' some very close friends said to me, and I spoke with my father and my daughters about it (they know it's not a question about me)."
"This was a question of not only me. An attitude towards me can affect third parties [that are] very important. It was the intelligent thing that I had to do,” Rubiales responded. 
On Sunday, Hermoso was greeted by the fans and teammates of her Mexican club, Pachuca, before their Liga MX women's league match against Pumas. Pachuca won the match 2-1.
The 33-year-old was honoured with a framed jersey bearing the number 10 and the unveiling of a mural commemorating her World Cup victories with Spain.
After the forward told the prosecutor that Rubiales and his "professional entourage" had pressured her relatives into saying she "justified and approved what happened," Marta Durantez Gil filed an additional allegation of coercion with the high court. Hermoso's original complaint was one of sexual assault.
The court is tasked with filing formal charges against Rubiales at this time.
While celebrating Spain's 1-0 win over England in Sydney, Rubiales was seen grabbing his crotch close to Queen Letizia and her daughter before the kiss.
A judge of the highest court will now decide whether or not to hear the case. If accepted, a magistrate will be assigned to lead an investigation, which will conclude either with a recommendation for the case to go to trial or be dismissed.
Under Spanish law, a person convicted of sexual assault faces a possible fine and jail time of up to four years.
The high court frequently hears cases involving transnational criminal organizations or transnational terrorism. According to BBC Madrid correspondent Guy Hedgecoe, "it is involved in this case because the alleged assault by Mr Rubiales took place in Australia."
On August 28th, Spanish prosecutors launched an initial probe to determine whether or not the incident met the legal definition of sexual assault.
Due to the "unequivocal nature" of 33-year-old Hermoso's statements, Spain's highest criminal court announced at the time that it was opening its investigation "to determine their legal significance."
After a "serious offence" was found to have been committed by his kissing of Hermoso earlier this month, a misconduct case was opened against him by Spain's national sports tribunal (TAD).
However, the TAD did not suspend him for the "very serious offence" requested by the government.
Here's a quick run down of the events following the kiss scandal-
  • 20 August - During the ceremony following the World Cup final, Spain forward Jenni Hermoso is first embraced then kissed on the lips by Luis Rubiales. Hermoso later reacts to the kiss during a live stream and says she "did not enjoy" it.
  • 21 August - Rubiales issues an apology saying he is "sorry for those who were offended" after being fiercely criticized by other footballers, the media and even by the Spanish prime minister, some of whom called on him to step down.
  • 24 August - World football's governing body Fifa opens disciplinary proceedings to examine Rubiales' actions.
  • 25 August - A defiant Rubiales insists at a Spanish FA emergency meeting that he will not resign, and calls the kiss "consensual".
25 August - The Spanish government says it is beginning legal proceedings seeking to suspend Rubiales, with the Spanish secretary of sport saying he "wants this to be Spanish football's MeToo moment".
25 August - Later that day, Hermoso releases a statement on Instagram rebuffing Rubiales' claims, saying that "at no time... was his kiss ever consensual".
25 August - 81 Spanish players - including all 23 who went to the Women's World Cup - announce they will not play for Spain's women's team until Rubiales is removed from his position.
  • 26 August - The Spanish football federation says it will take legal action over "each falsehood that is spread".
26 August - FIFA announces it is provisionally suspending Rubiales pending the outcome of its disciplinary proceedings.
26 August - World Cup-winning head coach Jorge Vilda criticizes Rubiales while his entire coaching staff resigns in protest against the federation president.
  • 27 August - The federation's delegate for sexual violence protocol confirms an internal investigation into events is under way.
  • 28 August - Rubiales' mother goes on hunger strike in a church in his hometown of Motril, while regional heads of Spanish football demand Rubiales' resignation.
  • 30 August - UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin describes Rubiales' behaviour as "inappropriate" - but calls for Fifa's investigation to be allowed to run its course.
  • 31 August - England manager Sarina Wiegman says the crisis surrounding Spanish football "really hurts" and shows there is still a "long way to go" in the women's game and society.
  • 4 September - Spain's men's national team condemn Rubiales' "unacceptable behaviour".
  • 5 September - Vilda is sacked as Spain head coach, 16 days after leading the team to World Cup victory.
  • 6 September - Hermoso formally submits a complaint about Rubiales to Spain's national prosecutor's office.
  • 8 September - Spain's national prosecutor's office files a complaint to the high court from Hermoso about Rubiales.
  • 10 September - Rubiales announces his resignation.
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