Luis Rubiales has refused to step down as president of the Spanish football federation following his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.

Rubiales, 46, kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England.

He had earlier grabbed his crotch as he celebrated at the final whistle.

“I will not resign, I will not resign,” he told an extraordinary general assembly called by the federation. “A social assassination is taking place.”

Rubiales apologised for the kiss on Monday before Fifa, world football’s governing body, opened disciplinary proceedings against him on Thursday.

On Friday he apologised for grabbing his crotch while celebrating in the VIP area in Stadium Australia, with Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter stood nearby.

Widespread reports in Spain suggested Rubiales would announce his resignation on Friday – but instead he vowed to “fight until the end”.

“I’m ready to be vilified to defend my ideals,” he added. “I don’t deserve this manhunt I have been suffering.

“I want to apologise without reservation for everything that happened in the box, when in a moment of euphoria I grabbed that part of my body that you have already seen.

“Of course I have to apologise, to the Queen, and to everyone who has felt offended. I have been in countless boxes and I have never behaved like that.”

Kiss was ‘mutual and consensual’

Rubiales – who was elected to his role in May 2018 – was repeatedly applauded as he addressed the assembly, which the Spanish football federation (RFEF) called “as a matter of urgency”.

He defended his actions by saying he was trying to console Hermoso after she had a late penalty saved by Mary Earps.

“Jenni was the one who lifted me up,” he said. “I told her to ‘forget about the penalty’ and I said to her ‘a little peck?’ and she said ‘OK’.

“It was a spontaneous kiss. Mutual, euphoric and consensual. That’s the key. A consensual ‘peck’ is enough to get me out of here?”

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Rubiales’ initial apology was “not enough” and second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz joined those calling on him to resign.

Futpro, a players’ union representing Hermoso, said the incident should not go unpunished while the 33-year-old forward said it would “defend my interests” in the matter.

The Pachuca player, who has 101 caps, initially said on Instagram she “didn’t like” Rubiales’ actions but a statement released later on her behalf defended him.

‘Rubiales cannot continue in office’ – reaction

Rubiales’ defiant stance has been met with widespread condemnation.

“What we have seen today at the federation assembly is unacceptable,” Spain’s second deputy prime minister Diaz wrote on social network X.

“The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”

Javier Tebas, the head of Spain’s top division La Liga, said it was “very difficult to explain what is happening with Luis Rubiales”.

He added that the sport was having to “live in dealing with him as president of the RFEF. The misogynistic gestures, the profane expressions, the protocol disaster and the insults of this latest global embarrassment are not a surprise”.

Tebas went on to allege serious criminal allegations against the president in his statement and added: “The list of women and men aggrieved by Luis Rubiales these years is too long and this must stop.”

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Spain’s World Cup-winning captain in 2010, simply said: “Embarrassing.”

He later added: “We should have spent these five days talking about our girls, of the joy they gave us all, to boast of a title that we did not have in women’s football but… “

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague posted on social media: “Against all the reporting, against the advice of people close to him, against the wish of the government (who will now go after him), Rubiales surprises even his close circle and insists he will not resign.

“Embarrassing, his explanations are obsolete. He will have to be pushed out,” he added.

Source: BBC