Even as he confronts a barrage of criticism for holding star player Jenni Hermoso’s head and kissing her on the lips during Spain’s Women’s World Cup triumph, Spain’s soccer association stood steadfastly behind its president on Saturday.
The federation said in an early-morning statement that it would pursue legal action to protect Rubiales and that it would demonstrate that Hermoso or those acting on her behalf had lied about what had occurred. What the legal action would entail was not specified in the announcement on the website of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
In an effort to justify his conduct from last Sunday in Sydney, Rubiales declined on Friday to quit as the head of the RFEF. He described the kiss as “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric, and consensual” in an attempt to explain his behavior.
Hermoso said that she did not agree to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression”.
Although it cannot dismiss Rubiales, the Spanish government has backed her and is working to have him suspended via a legal process before a sports tribunal.
The women’s Spain team has also rebelled. All 23 players of the cup-winning team, including Hermoso, as well as 32 other team members, said in a united statement sent via their FUTPRO union on Friday night that they would not participate in international competitions as long as Rubiales is the federation’s president.
Hermoso said, “I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and, of course, in no case did I seek to lift the president,” in response to Rubiales’ claim that the kiss he gave her was consensual.
Early on Saturday morning, the federation issued a statement in which it stated: “The RFEF and the President, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the Futpro Union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions.”
“Opinions are rebutted with facts and evidence where there is rule of law, and lies are refuted in court.”
According to the statement, “The RFEF and the President will expose every lie that has been spread, either by an agent acting on behalf of the player or, in some cases, by the player herself.”
Four images from the incident last Sunday were sent with the statement to support Rubiales’ claims that Hermoso hoisted him by the hips.
Rubiales’ resignation during the federation’s emergency meeting on Friday was widely anticipated. Instead, he protested that “false feminists” were “trying to kill me” and insisted again that he would not give up.
His Friday speech was deemed “unacceptable” by acting Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz. “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over,” she posted on social media. Rubiales can’t hold onto his position.
In recent years, gender problems have gained prominence in Spain. Thousands of women have participated in public protests against sexual assault and violence.
The coalition administration, which is socialist-led, has overseen law changes related to transgender rights, equal pay, abortion, and sex work.
Social media exploded with criticism of Rubiales’ remarks and the audience’s mostly positive response during the federation conference on Friday. “We all stand with you, @jennihermoso and all players of the Spanish team,” the defeated England national team tweeted.