Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales resigned from his position on Sunday due to the scandal surrounding his kiss on the lips of a Women's World Cup player.
The already-suspended president sent his resignation to the federation's interim president. He also explained his decision to step down during a television interview.
"I am going to resign, yes, because I cannot continue with my work," Rubiales told the television show "Piers Morgan Uncensored." "My family and friends tell me, 'Luis, you need to focus on your dignity and continue your life. Otherwise, you are going to hurt the people you love and the sport you love.'"
Rubiales, aged 46, sparked global outrage after forcibly kissing midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony following Spain's World Cup victory in Sydney on August 20. After he refused to resign, FIFA provisionally suspended him for 90 days, while Spanish public prosecutors filed a lawsuit against him for sexual assault and coercion earlier this week.
Hermoso, aged 33, filed a complaint at the National Court on Tuesday, formally accusing Rubiales of sexual assault. In an open letter published by Rubiales on Sunday night, he informed the federation that he was also resigning as a vice-president of the European football governing body UEFA.
"After the swift suspension imposed by FIFA, along with the other proceedings opened against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position," Rubiales wrote in the letter."Insisting on waiting and clinging to it will not contribute to anything positive, neither for the federation nor for Spanish football."
"Among other things, because there are powers that will prevent my return." Rubiales, who insists the kiss was consensual, stated that he did not want Spanish football to be harmed by "such an excessive campaign" against him.
"I have faith in the truth, and I will do everything in my power to ensure it prevails," he concluded. Rubiales mentioned that his departure would contribute to "stability" in Spain's bid for the 2030 Men's World Cup.
The president's mother, Angeles Bejar, went on a hunger strike in protest against her son's treatment, locking herself in a church on August 28. However, she was hospitalized two days later due to feeling unwell.
"My daughters, my family, and the people who love me have suffered from the effects of excessive persecution, as well as many falsehoods," Rubiales added in his letter."But it is also true that on the street, more and more every day, the truth is prevailing."
Spanish politicians quickly responded to Rubiales' decision."The feminist movement is advancing faster and faster," said second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter."The transformation and improvement of our lives are inevitable. We stand with you, Jenni, and with all women."
Spain's Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, wrote "It's Over" on X, a slogan used by Hermoso and her fellow players in protest against Rubiales.
Over 80 players from the women's side went on strike in protest after Rubiales' impassioned defensive speech following the incident, in which he criticized "false feminism" and stated that he would not resign. The players declared that they would not return until there was a change in the leadership of the RFEF (Spanish Football Federation). The controversial women's coach, Jorge Vilda, was dismissed on Tuesday.
The RFEF, under interim president Pedro Rocha, also issued an apology for the "completely unacceptable behavior" of Rubiales.
Montserrat Tome, Vilda's former assistant, is the new coach, marking the first time a woman has led the team.
Spain's women's team is scheduled to play Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26, respectively.
Meanwhile, Spanish prosecutors' lawsuit against Rubiales will be reviewed by a National Court judge.
If the judge accepts the request, a magistrate will be assigned to lead an investigation, which will either result in a recommendation for the case to go to trial or be dismissed.
Hermoso, who plays for the Mexican club Pachuca, has stated that the unwanted kiss left her feeling "vulnerable and like the victim of an assault," with a statement on social media describing it as "an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part." She has also accused Rubiales of pressuring her to speak out in his defense immediately after the kiss scandal erupted, which prosecutors said could be considered a crime of coercion.