Luis Rubiales, the embattled President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), is under increasing pressure to step aside following a bizarre scene Friday. With speculating growing that Rubiales would resign after a series of gross incidents following Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup, Rubiales instead remained defiant at an emergency RFEF assembly, vowing to remain on as the head of the organization.
In the hours since that defiant address, 81 players — including the entire roster of the Spanish team that just won the Women’s World Cup — signed a letter indicating that they will refuse to play for Spain again unless Rubiales is removed.
In the letter, released by FUTPRO, a players’ union, Jenni Hermoso is quoted regarding one of the many incidents involving Rubiales. Following the match against England Rubiales was seen on video kissing Hermoso on the lips. While he tried to claim the incident was consensual, Hermoso was captured on video in the locker room declaring that she “didn’t like” the kiss.
In the FUTPRO letter, Hermoso offers her clearest denial yet of Rubiales’ position.
“I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me and, of course, in no case did I lift the president. I do not tolerate that my word is questioned and much less that they invent words I never said,” said Hermoso.
The statement refers to Rubiales’ recent declaration that Hermoso actually picked him up to initiate the kiss, as well as recent reporting that a statement purported to be from the player was in fact generated by someone within RFEF.
The letter concludes with a demand for structural change, as well as a reference to how Rubiales has “tarnished” what should be a huge moment for Spanish soccer.