Real Federación Española de Fútbol/Europa Press/AP
Rubiales is speaking at the extraordinary general assembly of the Spanish Football Federation on Friday.
The presidents of Spain’s regional football federations are calling for the resignation of Luis Rubiales, the suspended president of the National Football Association, in a statement released on Monday after an extraordinary meeting.
Rubiales was suspended by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, on Saturday after he forcibly kissed a player during the women’s team’s World Cup victory celebrations.
“Following the recent events and unacceptable behavior that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents request that Mr. Luis Rubiales resign immediately as president of the RFEF. [Royal Spanish Football Federation]”, said the RFEF on behalf of the Committee of Regional Chairs.
All 19 regional presidents unanimously support RFEF interim president Pedro Rocha to “lead a new phase of dialogue and reconciliation with all football institutions,” the statement said. Rocha replaced Rubiales after his FIFA suspension.
“We will urge the relevant authorities to carry out a wholesale, immediate and organic restructuring process in the strategic positions of the federation in order to obtain a new managerial role in Spanish football,” the officials added in their statement.
Along with growing pressure to resign, Rubiales also faces an investigation that could end in sexual assault charges by Spanish prosecutors.
Javier Vazquez/Europa Press/Getty Images
A rally in support of soccer player Jenni Hermoso on August 28, 2023 in Galicia, Spain.
Rubiales’ mother had earlier locked herself in a church and begun a hunger strike to protest the “inhumane, bloodthirsty hunt” of her 46-year-old son, Spanish media reported.
Ángeles Béjar reportedly said on Monday that she would remain at the church in Motril, near Granada, in southern Spain, “indefinitely, day and night” until justice was served against Rubiales.
The football boss and the RFEF have been embroiled in controversy since he kissed the 33-year-old Hermosa striker on the lips after Spain won their first Women’s World Cup with a win against England.
Rubiales said he made a mistake but called the kiss consensual, while Hermoso said she didn’t give her permission to kiss and felt hurt.
“I felt vulnerable and the victim of an impulsive, sexist, inappropriate act without my consent,” she said on the social network. “Simply put, I wasn’t respected.
In a defiant speech on Friday, Rubiales refused to resign his position and vowed to “fight until the end” – a stance that has drawn a barrage of criticism from teams, players, politicians, union officials and even the United Nations.
When asked to comment on the incident during a press conference on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said: “I mean, how hard is it not to kiss someone on the lips?
“There remains a critical problem of sexism in sport and we hope that the Spanish authorities and the Spanish government will deal with it in a way that respects the rights of all female athletes,” he added.
On Saturday, FIFA said it was suspending Rubiales from “all football-related activities at national and international level” for 90 days while disciplinary proceedings are pending.
In response to Rubiales’ refusal to step down, RFEF vice-president Rafael del Amo and 11 members of Spain’s national women’s football program resigned.
Hermoso and her World Cup teammates said they would not play for Spain again until Rubiales was removed from his position.
However, the RFEF does he stands behind his bossaccusing Hermosa of lying about the incident and threatening legal action against her and others.
The president of the Supreme Council for Sport (CSD) in Spain, Victor Francos, expressed concern that the controversy would damage Spain’s bid to co-host the 2030 World Cup, along with Portugal and Morocco.
“I’m worried about the World Cup,” Francos said at Monday’s press conference. “Two weeks ago we were in a better position for the 2030 World Cup than we are today. But we are a stubborn government.”
Francos said he was in contact with governing bodies to explain that “Spanish sport is not what we have seen these days and Spanish football is not what you have seen these days,” referring to Rubiales. incident.
Demonstrators took to the streets on Monday to demand Rubiales’ resignation.
Among them was 27-year-old Ella from Northern Ireland, who told Reuters: “We cannot express our joy as women without some man interrupting it and spoiling it and taking it as his own. This was supposed to be a celebration of women’s sport, the improvements we’ve made.”
Another protester, Guadaluper Martin, told the news agency that the incident was “horribly disgusting.”
“First of all, before you could see up close the kiss he gave her without consent, all the hugging and touching was completely out of place. He was touching and rubbing players in front of all these internationals at the World Cup.”
“Internet evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Hardcore entrepreneur. Incurable analyst. Extreme food junkie. Unapologetic tv maven. Reader.”