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Rubiales says he will resign over kiss scandal

AFP
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Rubiales says he will resign over kiss scandal
President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Suspended Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales said Sunday he will resign from his post because of the scandal caused by his kiss on the lips of a Women's World Cup player.

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"I'm going to (resign), yes, because I cannot continue my work," said Rubiales in an interview with television show "Piers Morgan Uncensored".

"(Family and friends) say to me 'Luis, you need to focus on your dignity and continue your life. If not you are going to damage people you love and the sport you love'."

Rubiales, 46, sparked a worldwide backlash after forcibly kissing midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony following Spain's World Cup triumph in Sydney on August 20th.

The chief was suspended by FIFA provisionally for 90 days, while Spanish public prosecutors filed a lawsuit against him for sexual assault and coercion earlier this week.

Hermoso, 33, had filed a complaint at the National Court on Tuesday, formally accusing Rubiales of sexual assault.

READ ALSO: Spanish prosecutors accuse Rubiales of sexual assault

In an open letter published by Rubiales on Sunday night, he said he had informed the federation he was also stepping down as a vice-president of European football governing body UEFA.

"After the swift suspension carried out by FIFA, plus the rest of the procedures opened against me, it is evident that I will not be able to return to my position," said Rubiales in the letter.

"Insisting on waiting and clinging to it is not going to contribute to anything positive, neither for the federation nor for Spanish football.

"Among other things, because there are powers that be that will prevent my return."

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Rubiales, who insists the kiss was consensual, said he did not want Spanish football to be hurt by "such a disproportionate campaign" against him.

"I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power so that it prevails."

Rubiales said his departure would contribute "stability" to the 2030 men's World Cup bid in which Spain are involved.

The chief's mother Angeles Béjar went on a hunger strike in protest against the treatment of her son, locking herself in a church on August 28th.

However, two days later she was taken to hospital because she was 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," added Rubiales in his letter.

"But it is also true that on the street, more and more every day, the truth is prevailing."

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Strike

Over 80 players went on strike from the women's side in protest after Rubiales' fierce defensive speech following the incident, in which he railed against "false feminism".

They said they would not return until the leadership of the RFEF (Spanish football federation) was changed - controversial women's coach Jorge Vilda was sacked on Tuesday.

The RFEF also apologised for the "totally unacceptable behaviour" of Rubiales.

Vilda's former assistant Montserrat Tomé is the new coach - it is the first time a woman has led the team.

Spain's women's team are due to play Nations League qualifying matches against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22nd and 26th respectively.

Meanwhile, Spanish prosecutors' lawsuit against Rubiales will be analysed by a National Court judge.

If the judge accepts the request, a magistrate will be assigned to head an investigation which will end either with a recommendation for the case to go to trial or be dismissed.

Under Spanish law, sexual assault includes a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different penalties.

The punishment for a non-consensual kiss can range from a fine to four years in prison.

Hermoso, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, has said the unwanted kiss had 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 defence immediately after the scandal over the kiss erupted, which prosecutors said could be considered a crime of coercion.

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