Soccer federation chief refuses to resign over kiss scandal

Calls the kiss a little peck that was spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual.

MADRID: Spanish soccer boss Luis Rubiales refused to quit on Friday for kissing star player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory, fuelling anger among players and government ministers who decried his actions as unacceptable macho behaviour.

The government cannot sack Rubiales, who is head of the independent Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). But it will seek to suspend him using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal, the head of the state-run sports council, Victor Francos, told reporters.

“We want all this to be a ‘Me Too’ of Spanish soccer,” Francos said.

Rubiales had been widely expected to stand down at an emergency meeting of the federation on Friday, but instead he said he refused to be forced out and complained that “false feminists” were “trying to kill me”. He called the kiss a “little peck” that was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.

“Is a consensual peck going to take me out of here? I won’t resign. I will fight until the end,” said Rubiales, 46, drawing applause from the predominantly male audience. 

Criticism of Rubiales’ behaviour has built throughout the week. The incident occurred while the players were being handed their medals after they beat England 1-0 in the World Cup final in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday.

As players filed past, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso by the head and planted a kiss on her mouth.

Acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz called his speech on Friday “unacceptable”, writing on social media: “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”

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