© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez receive the World Cup champions – Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Spain – August 22, 2023 President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation
(Reuters) -Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales, engulfed in a scandal over allegations he gave an unsolicited kiss to a player on the women’s World Cup team last month, said on Sunday he had resigned from his position as president.
Rubiales announced his resignation in a statement in which he said his position had become untenable.
A Spanish prosecutor filed a complaint with the High Court against Rubiales last week for sexual assault and coercion over his allegedly unsolicited kiss on the lips of Jenni Hermoso.
The complaint, announced on Friday, describes how Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the mouth “without her consent” while holding her head with both hands after Spain defeated England to clinch victory in the World Cup in Sydney on Aug. 20.
Rubiales has said the kiss was mutual and consensual, and had until Sunday defied calls from players, government officials and others for him to resign.
Hermoso also lodged a criminal complaint against him last week.
Rubiales had also been suspended for three months from all football activities by FIFA pending an investigation by soccer’s world governing body into his actions.
“After the rapid suspension carried out by FIFA, plus the rest of the proceedings opened against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position,” Rubiales said in his statement.
“Insisting on waiting and clinging … is not going to contribute anything positive, neither to the Federation nor to Spanish football. Among other things, because there are de facto powers that will prevent my return,” he added.
He said he had also stepped down as a vice president of European soccer body UEFA.
Reuters reached out to Jenni Hermoso’s representative for comment on Rubiales’ resignation, and they did not return the telephone call.
The Rubiales case has sparked outrage among players and many in wider Spanish society.
“The feminist country is advancing faster and faster,” Spain’s acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz posted on X on Sunday after news of Rubiales’ resignation. “The transformation and improvement of our lives is inevitable. We are with you, Jenni, and with all women.”
Rubiales appeared to continue to defend his version of events.
“I have faith in the truth and I am going to do everything in my power to make it prevail,” he said in his statement.
In an interview with journalist Piers Morgan on Sunday Rubiales added he made the decision to resign having talked with family and friends.
“Luis, you have to focus on your dignity and continue your life. (Otherwise) you will probably be hurting more people you love and the sport you love,” he quoted them as saying.