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Luis Rubiales: Spanish FA calls ‘extraordinary and urgent’ meeting over World Cup kiss scandal

President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales (AFP via Getty Images)
President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales (AFP via Getty Images)

Spain’s football federation will hold an urgent meeting on Monday to evaluate the situation surrounding Luis Rubiales.

Rubiales has refused to resign over the incident with player Jenni Hermoso last Sunday in Sydney, saying the kiss was consensual.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has called regional federations to the “extraordinary and urgent” meeting “to evaluate the situation in which the federation finds itself” following Rubiales‘ suspension, a RFEF spokesperson said on Sunday.

Global soccer’s governing body Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday and announced on Saturday he had been suspended for three months from national and international soccer activities pending an investigation.

Luis Rubiales congratulates Salma Paralluelo  at the World Cup final (PA)
Luis Rubiales congratulates Salma Paralluelo at the World Cup final (PA)

Rubiales, 46, said he would use the FIFA probe to show his innocence.

All 23 of Spain’s cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as dozens of other squad members, said on Friday they would not play internationals while Rubiales remained head of the federation.

On Saturday, 11 members of the women’s team’s coaching staff offered their resignations to the RFEF in a statement supporting Hermoso and condemning Rubiales.

Coach Jorge Vilda said on Saturday he regretted the “inappropriate behaviour” of Rubiales.

Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz is due on Monday to meet representatives of the women’s players’ union FUTPRO, which represented Hermoso, and the Association of Spanish Footballers to ensure football is a sector “that has decent conditions and spaces free of sexist violence”.

Maria Jesus Montero, acting budget minister, said on Sunday Rubiales should not return to leading Spanish soccer.

“A person who lies, who has made a show of not having understood what the fight for equality means in an area as important as sport, cannot have the direction of football in this country in his hands,” she said.

Hermoso, who has said she did not consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression”, has been warmly supported by fellow players and many in wider society.

She was applauded by the crowd when she was spotted on a balcony with dignitaries at the Women’s Cup final between Atletico Madrid and Milan on Saturday evening. Players at the match held a banner reading: “With you Jennifer Hermoso.”

Players from Orlando Pride and San Diego Wave wore wristbands supporting Hermoso during their National Women’s Soccer League match in Orlando, Florida, on Friday. Players in Sweden also wore supportive messages on wrist tape on Saturday.

Andres Iniesta, who won the World Cup and Euros with Spain’s men’s team, added his voice to the chorus of condemnation “as a father of three daughters, as a husband and as a football player”, telling his 42.9 million Instagram followers that Rubiales‘ behaviour was “damaging the image of our country and our football around the world”.

Victor Francos, head of the state-run National Sports Council, has called the incident a MeToo moment for Spain. However, he said on Saturday it would not damage Spain’s bid to stage the 2030 World Cup along with Portugal and Morocco.