The president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) resigned about three weeks after he kissed a female player at a World Cup medal ceremony in Sydney, Australia.
Luis Rubiales kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the televised ceremony in August after Spain beat England 1-0 in the Women’s World Cup final. The backlash intensified after videos circulated of Rubiales grabbing his crotch and thrusting while seated near Queen Letizia of Spain.
The RFEF confirmed on Sept. 10 that the president has left his position. Rubiales had already been suspended for 90 days on Aug. 27.
Rubliales initially brushed off accusations of wrongdoing. He called the kiss a “gesture of affection” and urged people not to “pay attention to idiocy” and instead focus on the team’s success.
He also issued a formal apology, reiterating his sadness that the scandal had distracted from the team’s victory.
“I made a mistake, for sure,” Rubiales said in the statement, as translated by Pro Soccer Wire. “I have to accept it. In a moment of such emotion, without any bad intention or bad faith, what happened, happened, in a very spontaneous way. [There was] no bad faith from either side.”
“Here we saw it as something natural and normal. But on the outside it has caused a stir, because people have felt hurt by it, so I have to apologize; there’s no alternative,” he added.
After his suspension, Rubiales said he was the victim of a “witch hunt” carried out by “false feminists.”
Spain’s acting second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz called for his resignation, arguing that Rubliales harassed and assaulted Hermoso.
Hermoso had a mixed reaction to the kiss and the following outrage. She told Spain’s La 1 that she “did not enjoy that” when asked about the kiss but later defended Rubiales.
“It was a mutual, totally spontaneous gesture because of the huge joy of winning a World Cup,” Hermoso told a Spanish media outlet, per Fox News. “The ‘presi’ and I have a great relationship. His behavior with us has been a ’10.’ It was a natural gesture, of affection and gratitude. … We’ve won a World Cup, and we won’t get away from what’s important.”
Hermoso then filed a criminal complaint against Rubliales on Sept. 5. During her testimony, the athlete said she felt “vulnerable and a victim of an aggression” and that she and her family felt pressed to support Rubiales, per Sky Sports.
The Spanish government and the country’s top sports court (TAD) were unable to take action against Rubiales until Hermoso filed her complaint.
“I have handed in my resignation to the acting president, Pedro Rocha,” Rubiales wrote in an open letter published on Sept. 10, per ESPN.
“I have also informed him that I have done the same with my position at UEFA, so that a replacement for my role as vice president can be sought. … After the suspension by FIFA, in addition to the rest of the proceedings against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position.”