Gabriel Monnet/AFP via Getty Images
It was the outcome that many have demanded for weeks: Luis Rubiales, the embattled president of Spain’s soccer federation, says he is leaving his job.
Rubiales said in video of an interview released on Sunday that he was resigning “cause I cannot continue my work.”
He told interviewer Piers Morgan that friends and family had told him “to focus on your dignity and to continue your life, cause if not, probably you are going to damage people you love.”
BREAKING: Luis Rubiales has sensationally resigned as President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation following the scandal over him kissing Spain’s Jenni Hermoso at the Women’s World Cup Final. He revealed the news in a world exclusive interview for @PiersUncensored pic.twitter.com/Kl2uQTOzqv
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 10, 2023
The furor started immediately following Rubiales’ actions at the Women’s World Cup final in late August. Following Spain’s win in Sydney, Rubiales placed an unsolicited kiss on the mouth of star player Jenni Hermoso, lifted player Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder and carried her around, and made a crotch-grabbing gesture a few feet away from the Queen of Spain and her teenage daughter.
Criticism followed from nearly all sides: Spanish politicians on the right and left. Soccer players around the world, both female and male. FIFA announced a 90-day provisional suspension as it began disciplinary proceedings against him.
Rubiales claimed that the kiss was mutual and consensual, which Hermoso flatly denied — she says she never consented, and was “the victim of aggression.” Hermoso has filed a formal complaint against Rubiales, as part of an investigation by Spain’s High Court prosecutor into whether Rubiales committed an act of sexual aggression.
The Spanish soccer federation, RFEF, demanded that Rubiales resign, and released a statement “apologizing to the football world” and declaring that Rubiales “has tarnished our national team, our football and our society.”
Dozens of top Spanish women’s players said they would refuse to play for Spain until its current leaders were removed. Women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda, a close ally of Rubiales and unpopular with the team, was dismissed by the federation on Sept. 5. Vilda called the sacking “unfair” and undeserved, coming just two weeks after winning the Women’s World Cup.
Montse Tomé was announced as the team’s new coach. A former player, Tomé had been an assistant to Vilda since 2018. She will the first woman in the role in Spain.