Spanish Federation Head Set to Resign Amidst Kiss Scandal
Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President, Luis Rubiales, has revealed his intention to step down from his position on Friday in response to FIFA's initiation of disciplinary measures against him. This comes after an incident where he planted an unsolicited kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso during the celebrations that followed Spain's victory in the Women's World Cup. This championship-clinching victory saw Spain triumph over England with a score of 1-0 in the final, held in Sydney.
The controversial incident involving Rubiales and Hermoso caused a significant outcry, both nationally and internationally. Numerous individuals, including government officials, have voiced their demand for Rubiales' resignation due to his actions. The situation escalated further when FIFA commenced disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales. Jenni Hermoso, in a statement, expressed her belief that such actions should not be left unpunished.
In an attempt to mitigate the backlash, Rubiales released a video apology on Monday, retracting his initial dismissive comments about his critics. However, this apology was ineffective in quelling the public outrage. The spokesperson for RFEF declined to offer any comments on the matter.
In response to the escalating situation, regional leaders of RFEF convened for a crisis meeting in Madrid. The primary agenda was to discuss Luis Rubiales' future and explore potential successors. Among the leading candidates to replace Rubiales are Pedro Rocha, the head of the Extremadura football federation, and Pablo Lozano, who leads the Andalusia federation.
Luis Rubiales has a background as a player, having participated in various lower league clubs in Spain. He concluded his playing career in 2009 with Scotland's Hamilton Academical. His leadership journey commenced in 2017 when he announced his candidacy for the top role at RFEF, which he secured in May 2018. He pledged to modernize the federation, enhance transparency, and elevate its financial performance. This commitment was prompted by the corruption charges that led to the arrest of the former RFEF president, Angel Maria Villar.
However, Rubiales' tenure was marked by numerous controversies. One notable incident was the abrupt dismissal of Spain manager Julen Lopetegui merely two days before the team's inaugural match in the 2018 World Cup. Additionally, allegations of impropriety surrounded a lucrative deal involving the relocation of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. Internal discord also marred his time in charge, with a significant portion of the Spain women's squad advocating for the removal of the long-standing coach, Jorge Vilda, leading to a conflict that ultimately resulted in the exclusion of several players from the World Cup squad.