The Spanish women’s team have released a joint statement on Friday saying they will not play until the federation leadership is changed, mere hours after president of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales, confirmed his intention to remain at the head of Spain’s football federation.
Rubiales has faced increasingly fierce criticism after he grabbed footballer Jenni Hermoso by the head and kissed on her lips during the Women’s World Cup final trophy presentation on Sunday. Video later emerged of Rubiales grabbing his crotch in celebration in close proximity to the Queen of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter.
Speaking to media on Friday morning Rubiales doubled down on his position saying that he would fight to clear his name in court if necessary and refused to resign.
The statement published by players’ union Futpro included Hermoso’s rebuttal of Rubiales’ earlier assertion that the kiss was consensual.
“I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me,” Hermoso said. “I do not tolerate my word being questioned and much less the invention of words I have not said.”
Hermoso and her teammates called for “real change to help the national team to keep growing, to be able to bring this great success to the generations to come”.
The joint statement, signed by 56 players including all 23 from the World Cup winning squad, says that the World Cup champions will not return to play for Spain while “the current management” remains at the Rfef.
Elsewhere, Spain’s government has started the legal proceedings seeking to suspend the soccer federation chief with Victor Francos, head of the state-run National Sports Council telling a news conference:
“The government starts today the procedure so that Mr Rubiales has to give explanations before the Sport Court and if the Sport Court agrees, I can announce that we will suspend Mr Rubiales from his functions.”
The secretary of sport also added that he hoped this incident would become “Spanish football’s Me Too moment”.
Spain’s acting labour minister Yolanda Diaz saidd: “What we have seen today in the Federation Assembly is unacceptable. The Government must act and take urgent measures. Impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”
Fifa also opened its own investigation on Thursday and released this statement: “The events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code. The Fifa disciplinary committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter. Fifa reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”
The sections of the disciplinary code referenced in the Fifa statement cover “offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play”.