Sports

Spain’s football federation stands by its boss despite uproar over a kiss

MADRID: The Spanish Football Federation said on Saturday (26 August) it would take legal action to defend its president Luis Rubiales, even as he faces fierce criticism for killing star player Jenni Hermoso after the Women’s World Cup in Spain Head grabbed and kissed her on the lips cup win.

In a statement released in the early hours of the morning, the association said it would show that Hermoso or people speaking for her had given lies about what happened. The statement on the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s website said they would take legal action to defend Rubiales’ honor but did not say what the lawsuit would consist of.

Rubiales on Friday refused to step down as RFEF boss over his actions last Sunday in Sydney, trying to defend his behavior and calling the kiss “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.

Hermoso said she didn’t consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and a victim of aggression.”

She has won the support of the Spanish government, which, while unable to sack Rubiales, has strongly condemned his actions and is seeking a legal route to a sports court to have him suspended.

The Spanish women’s team has also mutinied. In a joint statement sent out via their FUTPRO union on Friday night, all 23 members of the cup-winning squad, including Hermoso, along with 32 other team members, said they would not play internationals as long as Rubiales remained in charge of the federation.

In the same statement, Hermoso denied Rubiales’ claim that the kiss he gave her was consensual, writing, “I want to clarify that, as can be seen in the pictures, I never accepted the kiss he gave me gave, agreed and of course.” Of course, by no means did I try to lift the President.

In its statement early Saturday, the federation stated: “The RFEF and the President will take appropriate legal action given the seriousness of the content of the FUTPRO Union press release.”

“Where the rule of law prevails… opinions are countered with facts and evidence, and lies are debunked in court.”

“The RFEF and the President will uncover any lie spread either by anyone on behalf of the player or, where applicable, by the player himself,” it said.

The statement was accompanied by four photos from last Sunday’s event, which allegedly illustrated Rubiales’ claim that Hermoso lifted him by the hips.

Reuters was unable to immediately phone an official from the FUTPRO union for comment.

It was widely expected that Rubiales would resign at an emergency federation meeting on Friday. Instead, he repeatedly said he would not give up and lamented that “fake feminists” were “trying to kill me.”

Acting Secretary of Labor Yolanda Diaz called his speech “unacceptable”. She wrote on social media: “The government must act and take urgent action: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot remain in office.”

Gender issues have become an important issue in Spain in recent years. Tens of thousands of women have taken part in street marches to protest against sexual abuse and violence.

The Socialist-led coalition government spearheaded legislative reforms in areas including equal pay, abortion, sex work and transgender rights.

Rubiales’ comments and the supportive reaction of many viewers at Friday’s FA meeting drew widespread criticism on social media. The defeated England side said: “We are all with you @jennihermoso and all the players in the Spanish team.”

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