Spain’s football federation has vowed to take legal action over “lies” as the row over its president kissing player Jenni Hermoso after the World Cup final deepened.
On Friday the president, Luis Rubiales, refused to quit after a storm of criticism, hitting out at “false feminism” and shouting “I am not resigning” in a chaotic press conference.
In response, the Spanish women’s team released a joint statement saying the 23 World Cup-winning players – and 34 more – would not play again until leadership of the federation was changed. In the statement, Hermoso, who is Spain’s leading goalscorer, said: “I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me. I do not tolerate my word being questioned and much less the invention of words I have not said.”
In the early hours of Saturday, the federation said it would show there have been lies about what happened by Hermoso or people speaking for her and vowed to initiate legal action.
“Where there is rule of law … opinions are counteracted with facts and evidence, and lies are rebutted in court.”
“The RFEF and the President will show each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself,” it said.
The statement was accompanied by four photos of the event last Sunday that it said illustrated Rubiales’ contention that Hermoso lifted him by the hips before the incident. He appeared to forcibly kiss Hermoso as the players collected their medals and trophy.
Rubiales also came under fire when footage emerged appearing to show the federation president grabbing his crotch when Spain won, while sat close to the Queen of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter.
Elsewhere, Spain’s government has started legal proceedings seeking to suspend the soccer federation chief with Victor Francos, head of the state-run National Sports Council telling a news conference: “The government starts today the procedure so that Mr Rubiales has to give explanations before the Sport Court and if the Sport Court agrees, I can announce that we will suspend Mr Rubiales from his functions.”
The secretary of sport also added that he hoped this incident would become “Spanish football’s Me Too moment”.
The Spanish team has also been backed by the Lionesses, whom they beat in Sunday’s final in Sydney. England players declared on Friday evening that they stand with Hermoso, describing the incident as “unacceptable”.