Luis Rubiales facing increasing calls for resignation as FA boss ahead of Friday RFEF meeting

Criticism is mounting on Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales after his apology for forcibly kissing Jennifer Hermoso as the team collected their winner’s medals at the Women’s World Cup failed to convince.

The federation also announced late Tuesday night that it will convene an Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday afternoon, likely to formally address the incident. It also said that relevant internal proceedings surrounding Rubiales’ actions were opened.

The announcement comes after a wave of condemnation from around the world. The strongest criticism yet of Rubiales came from Spain’s acting second deputy minister Yolanda Diaz, who said the event earned “our most resounding condemnation,” per ESPN. “Nothing more and nothing less, a woman has been harassed and assaulted. [Rubiales’] excuses are useless. What we ask is for the sports law to be applied and for the Sport’s federation protocols to be activated. This person should resign.”

Diaz is one of several government officials in Spain who have criticized Rubiales, including acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez. “It shows that in our country there’s a long way to go in terms of equality and respect between men and women,” Sanchez said Tuesday. “What we saw was an unacceptable gesture. I think the apology Mr. Rubiales has given wasn’t sufficient, I’d say it wasn’t adequate, and Mr. Rubiales should keep taking further steps.”

The controversy comes amidst the ongoing protest against the federation and head coach Jorge Vilda for fostering an unprofessional and toxic workplace. Fifteen players refused call-ups to the national team last September, and though a handful made themselves available for selection at the World Cup, seven players continue their demonstration.

Rubiales’ inappropriate behavior has lingered over Spain’s first-ever Women’s World Cup victory, and serves as an example of the toxic culture players allege is rampant throughout the federation. A reported failed attempt to save face by Rubiales and his allies also exemplifies the federation’s refusal to prioritize player safety and welfare despite a lengthy list of complaints.

The federation president unsuccessfully pleaded with Hermoso to appear alongside him in his apology video, per Spanish media reports, and Vilda also approached the player’s family three times on Rubiales’ behalf. The report also suggests that the statement the federation put out on Hermoso’s behalf in which Rubiales’ forced kiss was described as a “mutual gesture” was not actually from the player herself.

The only time Hermoso has publicly addressed the situation was during a post-match Instagram live from the locker room, when she said, “Eh…yeah, I did not enjoy that.”

Rubiales has also earned condemnation outside of Spain, namely from high profile women’s soccer players. Here’s the reaction to the incident so far.


In addition to officials in Spain, players from around the world are also reacting to the incident. 

Megan Rapinoe

“It made me think about how much we are required to endure,” the U.S. women’s national team star told The Atlantic. “Think how much that Spanish team had to shoulder: Some of the players who stood up way back last year [to protest poor treatment by their coach and federation] still aren’t on the team. Maybe that was something that galvanized them, but you shouldn’t have to have that.

“There was another picture that signals such a deep level of misogyny and sexism in that federation and in that man [Rubiales] at the final whistle, just grabbing his crotch. What kind of upside-down world are we in? On the biggest stage, where you should be celebrating, Jenni [Hermoso] has to be physically assaulted by this guy.”

Caroline Seger

The Sweden captain demanded change at the federation when she addressed the incident.

“It’s horrible and unacceptable,” she said, per Swedish publication Aftonbladet. “I can’t  understand how it can happen and to me it feels really weird. I want the whole world to react and I want something to happen because it’s clear that there are problems in RFEF. If people think it’s not wrong, it’s just not acceptable!”

Iker Casillas

The World Cup-winning goalkeeper with Spain’s men’s team in 2010 cheekily called for Rubiales’ resignation through a social media post. Casillas announced he would run for RFEF president in 2020 before withdrawing his candidacy. 

“So has someone resigned or not? What am I missing,” he wrote. 

Angel Torres

Getafe chairman Angel Torres said acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez should step in if Rubiales does not resign, per Spanish media reports. “Rubiales cannot last another minute in office,” he added.

Victor Francos

The president of the Spanish government’s High Council of Sport said the federation should act quickly to rid itself of Rubiales, but if it does not, he will step in.

“We have been very clear with RFEF on the need to open the procedures established by the Sports Law,” Francos said, per CNN. “We could not pass by not opening those internal disciplinary proceedings. From there, we are going to wait for the case to be resolved urgently, which is very limited with two people involved and there is not much to investigate.”

Liga F

The top flight women’s league in Spain issued a lengthy statement condemning Rubiales’ actions on Wednesday, and described the incident as an “unprecedented international embarrassment.” The league also called for a change at the federation after worldwide condemnation of the president.

“The seriousness of what happened, the damage caused and the unanimous worldwide rejection force decisions to be made,” the statement read in part. “Society has made itself clear. Spain and Spanish football do not deserve a representative of this level, and the institutions must accompany and respond to the feelings of society.”


The global players union also called for Rubiales’ removal on Wednesday, as well as an investigation into Rubiales’ behavior.

“FIFPRO fully endorse the the statement of Spanish player union AFE in calling for immediate action to address the conduct of Spain federation president Luis Rubiales at the FIFA Women’s World Cup final and is requesting an investigation of his actions under FIFA’s code of ethics.”


Hermoso’s agency issued a statement on Wednesday that it will collaborate with FUTPRO, an organization dedicated to protecting the labor rights of women footballers in Spain, to “evaluate the most appropriate action” for Hermoso to take following the incident.

The statement takes a different tone than the statement the federation issued on Hermoso’s behalf on Sunday, which described the forced kiss as a “mutual gesture.” That statement was reportedly published without Hermoso’s involvement.


The women’s soccer union confirmed TMJ’s statement that it will also help Hermoso explore her options and also issued a strong condemnation of Rubiales’ actions.

“We ask the Royal Spanish Football Federation to implement the necessary protocols, ensure the rights of our players and adopt exemplary measures,” the statement read in part. “We also call on the High Council of Sport so that, within its powers, it actually supports and promotes prevention and intervention in the face of sexual harassment or abuse, machismo and sexism.”

Imanol Alguacil

The manager of Real Sociedad’s men’s team succinctly condemned Rubiaes on Thursday, saying “It’s defined in one word and that’s unacceptable,” per The Athletic. His statement was echoed by club president Jokin Aperribay, who said “I think it’s clear” when asked about whether or not Rubiales should resign.

Enrique Cerezo

Atletico Madrid became the biggest Spanish club to call for Rubiales’ resignation on Thursday following comments from president Enrique Cerezo. “We must all be aware of what we do and say,” he said, per Spanish media reports. “You will have to do what you consider appropriate, but I believe that the appropriate thing is to present your resignation.”

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