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Spanish soccer president Luis Rubiales resigns after nonconsensual kiss at Women’s World Cup final

Spanish soccer president Luis Rubiales resigns after nonconsensual kiss at Women’s World Cup final

MADRID (AP) — Suspended Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales has resigned from his post after kissing a player on the lips without her consent in a scandal that overshadowed Spain winning the Women’s World Cup for the first time.

Rubiales announced his resignation Sunday in a message posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“After my swift suspension by FIFA, and the rest of the cases building against me, it is clear that I cannot return to the post,” Rubiales said in his statement.

Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso during the awards ceremony after Spain beat England to win the title on Aug. 20 in Sydney, Australia.

Spanish state prosecutors accused Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion after the unwanted kiss, the country’s prosecutors’ office said Friday, two days after Hermoso formally accused him of sexual assault.

He had already been suspended from his job by FIFA for his conduct at the final and, after soccer’s world body opened a disciplinary case, remained defiant and hostile toward Hermoso.

Rubiales said he also resigned as UEFA vice president.

Rubiales said that he had told interim Spanish federation president Pedro Rocha — who replaced him when Rubiales was suspended on Aug. 26 — of his resignation late Sunday night.

Rubiales, 46, is a former player and head of Spain’s main players union. He had run the federation since 2018.

Also Sunday, Rubiales said “I am going to (resign), I cannot continue my work,” in reply to a question from TV host Piers Morgan on Britain’s TalkTV. Clips from the show were released Sunday.

Two weeks ago, Rubiales had been expected to step down amid the immediate wave of criticism for his conduct at the final, which included a lewd gesture of grabbing his crotch. Instead, in a defiant Aug. 25 speech before his federation’s general assembly, he refused to go quietly and claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by “false feminists.”

That led FIFA to provisionally suspend him just one day later; the Spanish government starting a motion to have him ruled unfit to hold his office; and Hermoso’s accusation of sexual assault.

Rubiales’ behavior at one of soccer’s premier global events had drawn scorn from Spain’s politicians, its soccer leagues, clubs, players and fans. His only public supporters — other than his mother, who held a short-lived hunger strike in a church in southern Spain — soon abandoned him. Those included the coaches of Spain’s women’s and men’s teams. His own federation also publicly asked him to step down.

After Spain’s state prosecutors opened the door to him facing criminal charges – and even possible prison time if convicted — Rubiales finally agreed to resign.

“Insisting in waiting and hanging on would not contribute anything positive (for) either the federation or Spanish soccer, among other reasons, because the powers that be would stop me from returning (to my job),” Rubiales said in his statement.

The Rubiales scandal has drawn attention away from the greatest victory in Spanish women’s soccer and, ironically, the biggest win in Spanish soccer overall since he took charge.

After Rubiales accused Hermoso of lying about what he said was a kiss she had consented to, Spain’s women’s world champions, along with dozens of players, refused to play again for their country until there were changes in the federation’s leadership. The firing of the unpopular women’s team coach was not enough by itself for them to come back.

Rubiales will also resign as a vice president at UEFA, the European soccer body that pays him 250,000 euros ($268,000) annually in a job he was appointed to in 2019. He first had to be elected onto UEFA’s executive committee by European soccer federations. UEFA has taken no action against Rubiales, even after FIFA opened a disciplinary case 18 days ago.

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An election to replace Rubiales on the UEFA ruling committee can be held in Madrid next February when the Spanish federation hosts the next annual meeting of UEFA member federations.

Rubiales also said Sunday he did not want to bring instability to Spain’s bid to stage the 2030 World Cup in a co-hosting plan with Portugal, Morocco and possibly Ukraine. The bid is strongly favored to win the hosting rights in a campaign that FIFA wants decided by late in 2024.

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer