Luis Rubiales has resigned as the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] due to the ongoing investigations against him following his kiss on Spain forward Jenni Hermoso.
Hermoso filed a criminal complaint earlier this week, which led to prosecutors filing a case with Spain’s top court against Rubiales. He is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion for his conduct after last month’s World Cup final, which Spain won 1-0 against England.
His behaviour, which also saw him grabbing his crotch and kissing other players, subsequently saw him suspended from all football-related activity by FIFA, football’s top governing body, for 90 days as they carry out their own investigation.
“I have handed in my resignation to the acting president, Pedro Rocha,” Rubiales confirmed in an open letter published on Sunday.
“I have also informed him that I have done the same with my position at UEFA, so that a replacement for my role as vice president can be sought.
“After the suspension by FIFA, in addition to the rest of the proceedings against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position.”
Amid the fallout from the incident, Spain coach Jorge Vilda was fired on Sept. 5.
Rubiales had previously refused to resign despite the pressure which mounted on him in recent weeks. After refusing to do so in a speech in August, in which he blamed “false feminism” and a campaign against him, the Spanish government sought to intervene and suspend him from his position.
However, they have so far been unable to do so due to a ruling from Spain’s top sports court [TAD]. As TAD classified Rubiales’ infraction as “serious” and not “very serious,” the government has been unable to step in, but Hermoso’s decision to press changes changed the face of the investigation this week.
Rubiales said his decision to resign now is to avoid further fallout for Spanish football and the RFEF’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup in collaboration with Portugal, Morocco and Ukraine.
“To insist on waiting [for an outcome] and clinging on to [my position] will not contribute to anything positive — neither for the RFEF nor Spanish football,” Rubiales added.
“There are powers that be that will prevent my return. I do not want Spanish football to be harmed by this disproportionate campaign [against me].
“I am taking this decision after having made sure that my departure will contribute to the stability that will allow both Europe and Africa to remain united in the dream of [co-hosting the World Cup in] 2030.”
Rubiales previously said that the kiss was consensual — a claim Hermoso has strongly denied, saying she felt the victim of an aggressive act — and he will now focus on defending his name.
“I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power to make sure it prevails,” he said.
“My daughters, my family and the people who love me have suffered the effects of unconscionable persecution, as well as many falsehoods, but it is also true that on the street, every day more and more, the truth is prevailing.”
FIFA’s investigation could lead to a ban from football for as long as 15 years, according to reports, while the criminal case could see Rubiales handed a prison sentence of up to five years. Legal sources told ESPN, though, if found guilty, he would likely be handed a one to two year suspended sentence.
Meanwhile, after classifying his conduct as “serious,” TAD’s investigation could lead to a maximum professional disqualification of around two years.