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Spanish football chief faces sexual assault probe and calls for resignation

Luis Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), is under investigation for sexual assault by the Spanish National Court after he kissed national team player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent. The incident occurred on August 20, 2023, after Spain won the Women’s World Cup final against England in Australia.

The court’s prosecutor, who is authorized to investigate crimes committed abroad, opened the probe after receiving several complaints from concerned citizens. The prosecutor will speak with Hermoso to inform her of her rights as a victim and ask her to file a formal complaint for the case to move forward.

Rubiales has faced widespread criticism and condemnation for his behavior, which was captured on video and broadcasted worldwide. He initially defended himself in a defiant speech, in which he questioned Hermoso’s credibility and decried the “scourge of false feminism”. He later apologized and admitted he had “made a mistake”.

However, his apology was deemed “not enough” by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who said Rubiales should resign from his position. Several politicians, journalists, and soccer organizations also called for his resignation, labeling his behavior as “unacceptable”, “simply disgusting”, and “sexual harassment”.

On August 28, 2023, the executive committee of the RFEF, which consists of Spanish regional federation presidents, held an extraordinary meeting and demanded Rubiales to step down The committee also expressed its support for the national women’s team, which stated it would not play under the federation’s current leadership.

The head coach of the national women’s team, Jorge Vilda, who initially applauded Rubiales during his speech, also disavowed him and apologized for his reaction. However, his entire technical team resigned in protest shortly thereafter.

The case of Rubiales is also being examined by Spain’s Administrative Tribunal for Sport and Spain’s High Council for Sports, which are expected to impose additional sanctions on him. The RFEF is scheduled to address the incident during an extraordinary general assembly on September 1, 2023.

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