Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said Friday he will continue to defend himself as he faces disciplinary action for forcibly kissing Jennifer Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup final trophy presentation.
In a statement shared on social media, Rubiales admitted to making “some obvious mistakes, which I regret sincerely,” but the apologetic part of his statement gave way for a defiance that resembled his rant from last week, when he refused to resign at an emergency meeting called by the federation to address the issue.
“I also gave the corresponding explanations, telling the truth of what happened,” Rubiales added. “It’s my only version, the one that I’ve maintained from the beginning and I continue to defend and I am not going to modify. The spontaneity and happiness of the historic moment led us to carry out a mutual and consented act, the product of great enthusiasm. At no time was there any aggression, indeed, there was not even the slightest discomfort, but an overflowing joy in both. I repeat: with the consent of both parties, both with affectionate hugs, as well as the kiss and subsequent parting thereafter full of affectionate mutual gestures, which occurred in the medal ceremony on stage.”
Hermoso issued a statement last week denying that the kiss was mutual. “At no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me,” she said. “I do not tolerate my word being questioned.”
With several bodies investigating his conduct, Rubiales also said he would cooperate with investigative bodies but pledged to defend himself. FIFA’s disciplinary committee opened up a probe into him last week, and he also faces action from Spanish prosecutors and the country’s High Council on Sport (CSD).
The high council presented its case against Rubiales this week to Spain’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAD), which ruled that his actions were “serious” rather than “very serious.” The ruling means Rubiales can resume his role when his 90 day FIFA suspension is up, but the court was unable to make a harsher ruling because the new Law of Sport — which is stricter with such cases — is not yet fully in effect. The high council intends to file a request to change the ruling, per ESPN. The court can still suspend Rubiales for up to two years, but that would only come after an investigation.
Despite saying he would cooperate with investigators, Rubiales hit out at the TAD for continuing to look into his actions.
“Today, the TAD has decided to open a file on me,” he said. “As there is no reason, according to the resolution supported by said body, to classify any action as VERY SERIOUS, a provisional suspension may not be applied by the CSD Board of Directors. “I’ll continue to defend myself to prove the truth.”
Rubiales closed out his statement by accusing his critics of misunderstanding feminism, which is reminiscent of his rant a week earlier against “false feminism.”
“In the name of feminism, it must not be about trying to sink a man – or a woman – without a fair trial,” he added. “Equality is about identical rights for everyone. Justice must be applied to people without the gender having an impact on the result.”
This statement will likely not win Rubiales more allies, especially as those who applauded him during last week’s speech have since condemned him. That includes Jorge Vilda and Luis de la Fuente, managers of Spain’s women’s and men’s teams, respectively, who were seen applauding him but criticized his actions in the days since.