The position of Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has come under renewed pressure after Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday that Rubiales’ apology for kissing Jenni Hermoso “wasn’t sufficient.”
Earlier, Spain’s acting second deputy prime minister, Yolanda Diaz, had called for Rubiales to “resign” from his post following his actions in the aftermath of La Roja winning the Women’s World Cup on Sunday.
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Rubiales grabbed Hermoso’s head and kissed her on the lips during the award ceremony after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England in Sydney. Amid criticism of his behaviour, Rubiales apologised, but Sanchez said that was not enough.
“It shows that in our country there’s a long way to go in terms of equality and respect between men and women,” Sanchez told reporters. “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 RFEF isn’t a part of the Spanish government.
“The president is chosen or removed by [the federation’s] members. Mr Rubiales must take further steps to clarify a behaviour which is clearly unacceptable. His apology must be more clear and more convincing.”
Diaz also dismissed Rubiales’ public apology, saying Hermoso was “harassed and assaulted.”
“Our most resounding condemnation for what we saw,” Diaz said on social media in reference to Rubiales’ kiss. “Nothing more and nothing less, a woman has been harassed and assaulted.
“His [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.”
Later on Tuesday, the RFEF announced that it would hold an emergency Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday to discuss the issue.
“Based on the latest events that took place during the award ceremony of the Women’s World Cup won by the Spanish National Team last Sunday in Sydney, the Federation wishes to inform that the internal proceedings of the Federation regarding Integrity issues are open, as well as the rest of the applicable protocols,” the statement read.
During the medal ceremony, Rubiales was also seen effusively hugging and kissing other Spain players on the cheek.
The apology came after Spain’s minister for culture and sport, Miquel Iceta, described Rubiales’ actions as “unacceptable” on Monday.
Spain’s Association for Women in Professional Sports (AMDP) also accused Rubiales of a “lack of decorum, irresponsibility and indecency.”
The AMDP added in a statement they would be “delighted” to give Rubiales “the training you need [to treat players] or resign.”
Rubiales initially responded to the criticism by saying those who condemned his actions are “idiots.” In a later statement, he accepted he “had made a mistake” and would “learn from this.”
Hermoso downplayed Rubiales’ behaviour earlier on Monday, saying the kiss was “no big deal” and blaming “the emotion of the moment.”
Hermoso, 33, who is Spain’s leading career goal scorer, arrived in Madrid on Monday with the rest of the Spain squad. They were welcomed by thousands of fans.
Sanchez also announced on Tuesday after greeting Jorge Vilda’s team at the Moncloa palace in Madrid that the Spain squad will be awarded the Royal Order of Sports Merit.