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25 August 2023

Spain’s football chief in emergency talks amid reports he will quit over controversial kiss at women's World Cup final

25 August 2023

The president of the Spanish football federation faces an emergency meeting of its general assembly amid reports that he will resign after he kissed a Women’s World Cup champion.

Luis Rubiales is expected to stand before representatives of Spain’s regional federations, clubs, players, coaches and referees in Madrid at noon local time (11am BST), with local media claiming he is stepping down.

The 46-year-old has been under immense pressure to leave his post since he grabbed player Jenni Hermoso and kissed her on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.

Fifa, soccer’s global governing body and organiser of the Women’s World Cup, opened a disciplinary case against him on Thursday.

Its disciplinary committee was tasked with weighing whether Mr Rubiales violated its code relating to “the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or Fifa into disrepute”.

That move came after Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Mr Rubiales’ attempt to apologise, which came after he initially insulted his critics, was unconvincing, and that “he must continue taking further steps” to be held accountable.

Spain’s Higher Council of Sports, the nation’s governing sports body, pledged it would act quickly to consider various formal complaints filed against Mr Rubiales to see if he had broken Spain’s sports law or the federation’s own code of conduct that sanction sexist acts.

If so, Mr Rubiales would face being declared unfit to hold his office by Spain’s Administrative Court for Sports.

Before the forced kiss, Mr Rubiales had shortly beforehand grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture from the section of dignitaries, with Spain’s Queen Letizia and the 16-year old Princess Infanta Sofia standing nearby.

The combination of the gesture and the unsolicited kiss has made Mr Rubiales a national embarrassment after his conduct was broadcast to a global audience, marring the Spanish team’s accomplishment.

Speaking about the kiss during a locker-room celebration which was streamed on social media immediately after the incident, Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward and key contributor to Spain’s victory, said: “I did not like it, but what could I do?”

The first attempt to respond to the scandal was a statement it released in the name of Hermoso in which she downplayed the incident.

Later, a local media report by sports website Relevo.com said that the federation had coerced her into making the statement. The federation has denied this.

On Wednesday, Hermoso issued a statement through her players’ union saying it would speak on her behalf.

The union said it would do all it could to ensure that the kiss does “not go unpunished”.

Mr Rubiales has received no public support from any major sports figure, and political parties have united in calling for him to resign.

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