Luis Rubiales speaks out to ‘continue defending myself’ over kiss scandal

Under-fire Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales has spoken out for the first time in a week and vowed to continue defending himself amid the ongoing kiss scandal following the Women’s World Cup final.

Rubiales kissed Spain player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup victory celebrations, with Hermoso since explaining that the kiss was not consensual, despite the president’s insistence that it was.

Rubiales has repeatedly refused to resign or apologise for the incident despite being suspended by Fifa and growing cries from governments and football officials to step down.

The situation has somehow become even stranger since the 46-year-old repeatedly shouted ‘I will not resign, I will not resign’ during a press conference last Friday where he also called criticism of his actions ‘false feminism’, with his mother being hospitalised after locking herself in a church and going on hunger strike to object to the criticism of her son.

In his first public comments since 25 August, Rubiales has now expressed some regret about the situation but is still adamant the kiss was consensual and insists he will continue to defend himself to “prove the truth”.

In his statement, he said: “I made some obvious mistakes, which I sincerely regret from the bottom of my heart. I’ve learned that no matter how great the joy and how deep the emotion, even when you win a World Cup, sports leaders should be held to exemplary behaviour, and mine was not so.

“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 in the affectionate hugs, as well as in the peak and subsequent farewell full of affectionate mutual gestures, that occurred during the medal presentation.

“I have also felt the growing support of people on the street and on social media. I will continue to defend myself to prove the truth.

“I still have confidence in the independence of the bodies where this matter should be resolved, despite the political pressure and the interest-driven brutality of certain media outlets.

“Although information about this matter is being subjected to numerous manipulations, lies, and censorship, the truth has only one path, and that’s why I repeat, I trust that justice will be served.”

Spanish prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into whether the incident amounts to a crime of sexual assault, while the Spanish FA’s regional leaders called for his resignation.

On Friday, the head of Spain’s Olympic Committee said Rubiales’ actions were “inappropriate and unacceptable” but an “isolated incident” that did not represent Spanish sport as a whole.

Coach of the Spanish men’s national football team, Luis de la Fuente, has now apologised for applauding Rubiales during the speech in which he refused to resign. De la Fuente was sitting in the front row and vigorously clapped when he attacked “false feminism”.

He has now described a “situation that overwhelmed many of us for which I was not prepared for” and stated that he expects Rubiales to resign.

“I want to take this moment and my place as national men’s coach to explain the situation,” said De la Fuente. “I have received harsh criticism for it. Do you know what I think of the criticisms? They are entirely deserved, that I am sorry, that I understand them and ask forgiveness for them.”

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