The president of the Spanish soccer federation refused to resign Friday despite an uproar for kissing a player on the lips without her consent after the Women's World Cup final.
Luis Rubiales told an emergency general assembly of the federation "I won't resign" four times in quick succession and claimed he was a victim of a witch hunt by "false feminists."
Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the award ceremony after Spain beat England in the final in Sydney, Australia, marring the title celebrations with his actions.
Several Spanish media outlets had reported on Thursday that Rubiales was planning to step down.
Instead, he said the kiss was "mutual and with the consent" of Hermoso. He received various applause from the overwhelming male assembly.
Hermoso had said in a video streamed on social media after the kiss last Sunday that "I didn't like it, but what can I do."
Rubiales, 46, has been under immense pressure to leave his post since he grabbed player Jenni Hermoso and kissed her on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
FIFA, soccer’s global governing body and organizer of the Women’s World Cup, opened a disciplinary case against him on Thursday. Its disciplinary committee was tasked with weighing whether Rubiales violated its code relating to “the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”
That move by FIFA came after Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that Rubiales’ attempt to apologize, which came after he initially insulted his critics, was unconvincing and that “he must continue taking further steps” to be held accountable.
As if the forced kiss was not enough, Rubiales had shortly before grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture from the section of dignitaries with Spain’s Queen Letizia and the 16-year old Princess Sofía nearby.
The combination of the gesture and the unsolicited kiss has made Rubiales a national embarrassment after his conduct was broadcast to a global audience, marring the enormous accomplishment of the women who played for Spain.
Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward and key contributor to Spain’s title, said on a social media stream “I did not like it, but what could I do?” about the kiss during a locker-room celebration immediately after the incident.
The first attempt to respond to the scandal was a statement it released in the name of Hermoso in which she downplayed the incident. Later, a local media report by sports website Relevo.com said that the federation had coerced her to making the statement. The federation has denied this to The AP.
On Wednesday, Hermoso issued a statement through her players’ union saying it would speak on her behalf. The union said it would do all it could to ensure that the kiss does “not go unpunished.”
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