The hours of Luis Rubiales at the helm of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) are numbered. The highest president of Spanish soccer has been left alone with the passing of the hours since Jennifer Hermoso asked last Wednesday that action be taken against him for kissing him on the mouth without her consent during the World Cup. The football clubs first and the territorial federations later have been withdrawing their support for Rubiales throughout this Thursday, solitude to which we must add the rejection of his figure from other levels of the world of football and the pressure from the Government to resign. Even FIFA announced that it has opened a disciplinary file. Rubiales maintains the call for the assembly for this Friday at the federation headquarters in Las Rozas but his environment has sent signals that he could resign sooner.

Letter to an assembly member of the Federation: what you are going to excuse Rubiales


In Spain, various First and Second Division clubs, soccer associations, coaches, individual players or even a territorial federation – one of the groups theoretically closest to the president – ​​were parading through the media or sending communications throughout Thursday to make Rubiales ugly by his behavior during the celebration after Spain’s victory in the women’s soccer world cup. Some of them openly asked him to leave office and many announced that they will not attend the extraordinary assembly called for this Friday in the Ciudad del Fútbol de las Rozas (Madrid), headquarters of the federation. The photo, which Rubiales had prepared to reinforce her position with the closed support that she expected to receive, will no longer be produced. And the appointment runs the risk of not even being held due to lack of quorum.

Several sports media outlets assured in the afternoon-night of this Thursday that the resignation has already been decided and communicated to his entourage and that it only remains to decide when to make it public: the celebration this Friday at 12 of the RFEF assembly could be the chosen moment . The Second Vice President of the Government, Yolanda Díaz, and the Acting Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, have celebrated the announcement that Rubiales will foreseeably resign this Friday.

The Government has not let a day go by without a senior official coming out to publicly remind Rubiales and his entourage that he will take action if he does not resign beforehand. This Thursday there was a triple message: first, the Minister of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, came out to describe Rubiales’ treatment of the players as “humiliating and shameful”; then the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, insisted that the Executive will act if the interested party or the RFEF does not do so before; Lastly, the person in charge of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, set an expiration date on the margin that the Government is giving the president of the federation to leave before being fired. On Monday, Iceta said, the complaints received by the Higher Sports Council (CSD) will be raised to the Administrative Court of Sports (TAD). And there may already begin to have consequences for Rubiales: at the moment that the TAD initiates the file, the CSD could provisionally separate him, a suspension of functions that would become definitive if the process ends in a disqualification.

Rubiales faces several parallel disciplinary processes for his actions after the World Cup final: the most notorious was when he forcibly kissed Jennifer Hermoso during the medal ceremony, but later other images with more soccer players emerged, with Queen Leticia, when he grabbed the genitals or the insults in the Cope to the Spain that was outraged by his performance.

At this time, the president of the Federation has at least four complaints before the CSD: one from the RFEF affiliate Miguel Ángel Galán, another from former professional referee Xavier Estrada Fernández, one from Sumar and another from League F. They accuse him of failing to comply the protocol against sexual violence of the Federation, the Sports Law and, perhaps, an abuse of power for being the boss of Hermoso in the context of the federation.

Galán has denounced Rubiales for “non-compliance with Sports Law 39/2022 for the sexist act of kissing Rubiales on the mouth towards (…) Jennifer Hermoso (…). According to the Disp[osición]. Final 1 of said law, ‘it is an intolerable sexist act in sport’”, read their complaint. Sumar accuses the RFEF leader of a serious infraction for violating the action protocol against sexual violence. Finally, Liga F. denounces him for the “very serious facts and conduct carried out”, and lists everything that happened in the post-match.

A constant drip of reproaches

The first days of the controversy were characterized by the deafening silence of a good part of the world of professional soccer, but the step forward taken by Hermoso and by Liga F on Wednesday collapsed the house of cards in which Rubiales was taking refuge: until that day , the victim had not publicly reproached him for his attitude. Moreover, the only statements of his known -that Relief revealed later, they were false – they supported him. Hermoso cut that route with his statement.

The conjunction of the player’s public complaint with the arrival of the League day, which was going to have coaches and players from all teams parade before the microphones, precipitated the rejection of Rubiales by various actors. First Division clubs such as Osasuna, Real Sociedad or Atlético de Madrid joined Getafe to request the resignation of the president of the federation. Others –Barcelona, ​​Betis, Alavés, Elche (these last two, from the Second Division)– announced that they do not plan to attend the assembly called for 12 in the morning. According to Relevo, 19 of the 20 professional clubs present in this RFEF body will not go to Las Rozas this Friday. Only Athletic Bilbao remained to be decided, one of the teams that has traditionally supported Rubiales.

The fans joined in from the stadiums: during the match of the Joan Gamper summer tournament, between Barcelona Femenino and Juventus FC Women, the stands erupted with shouts of “Rubiales resign”.

In parallel there had been one of the biggest scoldings that Rubiales could receive. The Basque Football Federation broke with the theoretical closed support that the territorial entities –key in the control of the assembly– offered to the president and announced that “given the seriousness of what happened (…) the Basque Federation will not attend the Assembly of the RFEF”. Although he did not say that Rubiales should resign, the news of the withdrawal of confidence in one of the federations traditionally related to the president – ​​its president is a member of the Board of Directors – spread like wildfire.

He was not the only member of this organization to demonstrate against Rubiales. The Association of Futsal Players, chaired by Natalia Orive, also a member of the Board, issued a statement in which it shows its “rejection” of what happened and hopes “that this type of conduct that threatens the dignity of women do not go unpunished”.

Critical reactions from early professional players also poured in. Isco, from Betis, stated that “if it was not consented to, it is an abuse of power. Sending my full support to Jenni.” Her teammate Borja Iglesias joined her support: “We are with her.”

All these absences call into question the very celebration of the assembly, which needs a quorum of at least 50% of the participants (70 out of a total of 140) to get going. Late on Thursday, the appointment was still called, despite the fact that for many of the clubs it is a pantomime in which nothing is even going to be voted on because there is no specific item on the agenda on the issue, which will foreseeably be addressed in question and answer time.


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