Jennifer Hermoso (right) and Alexia Putellas celebrate after the team's victory in the final match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup between Spain and England in Sydney, Australia, 20 August 2023. The victory has been overshadowed by controversy over Luis Rubiales kissing Hermoso during the handing out of the cup winner’s medals. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)


Spanish Football Federation chief will not quit and calls out ‘false feminists’


Despite pressure from industry peers and the Spanish Government, Luis Rubiales will stay on as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

On August 25, during an extraordinary general meeting of RFEF, Rubiales denounced what he called “false feminists” and promised to take legal action against the acting Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz.

“I will not quit”, Rubiales repeated five times during a press conference. He apologised to the Spanish Queen and the Royal Household for vulgar gestures he made in his box at the Stadium Australia during the Spanish victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final on August 20.

“I apologise without palliatives for what happened at the box. I got excited to the point I lost control,” he said. “The emotion was too much. I do not justify it. I am sorry.”

Rubiales did not apologise for kissing Spanish player Jennifer “Jenni” Hermoso during the handing out of the cup winners’ medals. He claimed the kiss was consensual saying it was no “more than a kiss, it was a peck.” Rubiales said he had asked Hermoso for a kiss and she accepted.

Of the other criticisms, he said: “There is a false narrative some are trying to transform into the truth.” He then called out what he said were the “false feminists” and the press “that seek neither justice, nor the truth”.

Rubiales denounced Díaz and other parliamentarians of progressive parties and said he will take legal action over the “hunt” they are pursuing against him.

Regarding the incidents at the finals, Díaz had previously tweeted: “What we saw today is unacceptable. The government must act and take urgent action.” She added that, “Rubiales cannot remain in this post.”

The president of RFEF was in hot water after kissing Hermoso seemingly without consent during the celebrations of the Spanish team in Sydney. He also grabbed his genitals while next to Queen Leizia of Spain and her daughter Sofía.

Shortly after, in the locker-room, the winners recorded a live stream. Hermoso claimed she “did not like” Rubiale’s kiss. This statement unleashed a tide of condemnation against him from high-level politicians and media pundits. Díaz then called for his immediate resignation.

The public outcry forced Rubiales to record an apology from Qatar’s Doha airport, where the team had a layover on their way back to Madrid. Reporters have claimed Rubiales wanted Hermoso to appear with him to appease critics but she allegedly refused.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez received the players at his official residence less than 48 hours after their victory. His smirk while shaking Rubiale´s hand did not go unnoticed by observers. A few moments later, in a press conference, Sánchez reacted to Rubiale’s apologies and called them “insufficient, even inadequate”.

“What we saw was unacceptable”, he added.

Analysts pointed out that Sánchez’s comments sparked the campaign against Rubiales. The presidents of prominent football clubs, such as FC Barcelona, spoke out against Rubiales’ actions and FIFA has also opened a file against him.

The Rubiales’ scandal has eclipsed the negotiations of a new coalition government and the Spanish team’s victory, observers say.