Mass resignations rock Spanish FA as boss clings to power after controversial World Cup winner kiss


FOOTBALL Mass resignations rock Spanish FA as boss clings to power after controversial World Cup winner kiss

Mark Kinyanjui 13:00 - 27.08.2023

Rubilales swore to fight on after being provisionally suspended by FIFA for his conduct, forcing the 11 staff members into resigning after the president "forced" them into attending his speech on Friday.

Eleven members of the Spanish women’s coaching team have  resigned from national team duties, citing  the “unacceptable attitude” of Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales who refused to resign for his actions after the World Cup final.

Rubilales kissed striker Jennifer Hermoso on the lips and was also seen grabbing his crotch next to the queen Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano and her 16-year-old daughter.

“The undersigned, in light of the unacceptable attitude and statements made by the head of the federation, have taken the decision to resign from their positions,” the statement said.

The staff – who include assistant managers Montse Tomé, Javier Lerga and Eugenio Gonzalo Martín, along with physio Blanca Romero Moraleda and goalkeeper coach Carlos Sánchez – also claimed that they had been ordered to attend Rubiales’ speech on Friday. 

“This was particularly hurtful,” it added, “as many of the female members of the coaching staff were obliged to sit in the front row,” so as to suggest that they agreed with the remarks made by Rubiales," the statement claimed.

The resignations leave the team’s controversial head coach, Jorge Vilda, increasingly isolated, although he broke his silence on Saturday evening to criticise Rubiales, calling the kiss “inappropriate and unacceptable”. 

In a statement published in Marca, Vilda said: “The events that have taken place since Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in its history … have been a real nonsense and have generated an unprecedented situation, tarnishing a deserved triumph of our players and our country.

“I deeply regret that the victory of Spanish women’s football has been harmed by the inappropriate behaviour that our until now president, Luis Rubiales, has carried out and that he himself has acknowledged. There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular.”

The joint resignation statement came hours after Fifa said Rubiales would immediately be suspended “from all football-related activities at national and international level” for an “initial period of 90 days, pending the disciplinary proceedings” that were opened against him earlier this week.

The Fifa disciplinary judge, Jorge Palacio, said “in order to preserve, among other factors, the fundamental rights” of Hermoso, Rubiales was also ordered “to refrain, through himself or third parties, from contacting or attempting to contact” her and those close to her.

The statement also said the Spanish football federation, which earlier threatened to take legal against Hermoso, had been ordered to refrain from contacting her and those close to her.

The Fifa decision came after a tumultuous Friday in which a defiant Rubiales refused to resign and sought to cast himself as the victim, prompting Hermoso to stress that she did not consent to the kiss and the women’s team to announce that they would not take part in national matches until the federation changes its leadership.

Fifa added that the decision – which the Associated Press noted was far-reaching enough to prevent Rubiales from having contact with other officials – was communicated to Rubiales on Saturday.

The federation confirmed soon after that its vice-president, Pedro Rocha Junco, would become the federation’s interim president.

In a statement, it added: “Luis Rubiales has stated that he will defend himself legally in the competent bodies, he has full confidence in the Fifa bodies and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defence so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven.”

There was no immediate comment from Uefa, where Rubiales is a vice-president, a position that comes with an annual income of €250,000 (Ksh. 38.75 million) plus expenses.

The Fifa committee said it would not provide any further information on the disciplinary proceedings until a final decision is taken. There was no timeline given as to when this decision – which could bring about sanctions that range from a warning to suspension – will be made.

News of Fifa’s suspension was welcomed by many in Spain, after days of uproar that threatened to overshadow the incredible accomplishments of La Roja. 

Hermoso sought to contextualise Rubiales’ conduct within this long-running feud in her statement on Friday.

“This type of incident joins a long list of situations that we players have been denouncing in recent years,” she said. “This incident is just the straw that broke the camel’s back and one that everyone has been able to see. But attitudes like this have been part of the national team’s daily life for years.”