Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish soccer federation, has resigned amidst a wave of criticism over his unwanted kiss of Women’s World Cup winner Jennifer Hermoso. The incident occurred during a globally televised awards ceremony in August and sparked condemnation both in Spain and internationally.
Rubiales announced his resignation via social media, stating, “Today, I notified the interim president at 930 pm, Mr. Pedro Rocha, that I have resigned as President of RFEF (the Royal Spanish Football Federation). I have also let him know that I have also resigned my position in UEFA so that my Vice-presidency position can be filled.”
He continued, “To insist on waiting around and holding onto that won’t contribute anything positive, neither to the Federation nor to Spanish football. Among other things, because the powers that be will prevent my return.”
Pressure had been mounting on Rubiales to step down, with all 19 regional presidents of Spain’s soccer federation calling for his resignation following an emergency meeting. Hermoso and other soccer players, including all 23 members of Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning squad, had refused to play for the national team again until there were changes in the federation’s leadership.
Rubiales’ resignation marks a significant moment in the controversy that had enveloped Spanish soccer. His departure will lead to an election to find his successor.
The unwanted kiss and Rubiales’ staunch defense of it had triggered a crisis in Spanish soccer, drawing criticism from politicians, sports stars, and sparking a conversation about the prevalence of “macho culture” in Spain. The controversy ultimately led to a reckoning for Spanish soccer, with widespread calls for change and greater respect for women in the sport.