Luis Rubiales, who was also chastised for grabbing his crotch after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday, remained defiant despite immense pressure to resign. The kiss marred the title celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, and criticism has steadily mounted.
Hermoso issued a statement Friday strongly rebuking Rubiales’ characterisation of the kiss as consensual, while the 46-year-old federation president cast himself as the victim at an emergency general assembly of the federation in Madrid.
“I won’t resign,” he declared four times in quick succession, to applause from the overwhelmingly male audience.
Several Spanish news media outlets reported on Thursday that Rubiales would step down. Instead, he said on Friday that he is the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists.”
While Rubiales held his ground, federation vice president Rafael del Amo, who had been in charge of women’s soccer, announced that he was resigning, followed by at least two other federation members. Del Amo had urged Rubiales to also resign.
Among those applauding Rubiales were women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda and men’s national team coach Luis de la Fuente. Until Friday’s assembly, he had received no public support in Spain, with political parties from both the left and the right speaking out against him.
In his speech to the gathering, Rubiales said Hermoso “lifted me up” in a celebratory gesture and he asked her for “a little kiss?” and she “said yes.”
“The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters,” Rubiales said.
The televised broadcast of the medals ceremony didn’t show the first moments when Rubiales congratulated Hermoso. But it does show that his feet were on the ground before he held her face and kissed her.
Hermoso contradicted Rubiales’ version in two statements, one issued through her FUTRPO players union and a second published on social media.
She said that she did not consent to the kiss or try to pick up the president, and that there was no conversation like the one described by Rubiales.
“I won’t tolerate anyone doubting my word and even less someone putting words in my mouth,” she said.
In a second statement, Hermoso said the kiss “left me in a state of shock.”
“I believe that no person in any workplace should be the victim of this type of non-consensual behaviour,” she added.
Hermoso also accused the federation of pressuring her and her family to speak out in Rubiales’ defence. The federation previously denied a report that it forced her to make a statement downplaying the kiss shortly after it happened.
After a full day of accusations and counteraccusations between Hermoso and Rubiales, the federation issued a statement early Saturday saying that its president did not lie and that he and the organisation would take legal action against Hermoso and her union. The statement included photos that it said show Hermoso lifting Rubiales off the ground during the medals ceremony.
The FUTPRO statement signed by Hermoso, her 22 teammates, and more than 50 other Spanish players said they would no longer play for Spain “if the present leadership remains in charge.”
Rubiales said he would defend his honour in court against politicians, including two ministers, who called his kiss an act of sexual violence. One of them was acting Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz, who urged the government to take “urgent measures.”
“Impunity for macho actions is over,” Díaz said. “Rubiales cannot continue in office.”
Alexia Putellas, Hermoso’s teammate and a two-time Ballon d’Or winner as the best player in the world, posted a message of support on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“This is unacceptable,” the Barcelona player wrote. “I’m with you, my teammate, Jenni Hermoso.”
Other teammates quickly followed, along with players from abroad.
“I’m disgusted by the public actions of Luis Rubiales,” U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan said on X. She added that winning a World Cup “should be one of the best moments in these players’ lives but instead it’s overshadowed by assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation.”
The president of Spain’s women’s league, Beatriz