Alamy Stock Photo Spain's national soccer coach Luis de la Fuente.
Under fire

Rubiales promises to 'prove the truth' as sports court probes kiss

A top criminal court has also opened a preliminary probe into the incident.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 1st 2023, 9:10 PM

Updated at 21.12

LUIS RUBIALES, SPAIN’S suspended football federation president, said Friday that he will continue to defend himself “to prove the truth”, after the country’s top sports court opened an investigation into his forcible kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso.

“I want to send a message to all the good people in our country and beyond our borders, including those women who have really been attacked and who have my full support and understanding: this is not about gender, it is about truth,” Rubiales said in a statement published by the newspaper El Mundo.

Rubiales, provisionally suspended from his post by Fifa for 90 days after kissing Hermoso following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win, is being investigated by Spain’s sports court (TAD), while the top criminal court has opened a preliminary probe into the incident.

The federation chief apologised for his behaviour in Sydney but repeated his belief that the kiss was consensual — Hermoso says it was not, and that she felt like a “victim of an assault”.

“On August, I made some obvious mistakes, for which I sincerely, from the heart, regret,” said Rubiales in his statement.

“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.”

Rubiales reiterated that the kiss was “a mutual and consensual act” with “overflowing jubilation on both sides”.

The 46-year-old said he believed justice would prevail.

“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,” added Rubiales.

“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.”

The Spanish football federation’s territorial presidents asked Rubiales to step down from his post last week, while over 80 women’s players are striking from the national team.
“And what continued to happen in the following days. This should never have happened.”

Spain men’s coach Luis de la Fuente apologised earlier today for applauding Rubiales’ speech last week in which he said he would not resign, after his forcible kiss on the lips of Women’s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso.

“I have to say sorry, I made a mistake, it’s inexcusable,” De la Fuente told a news conference.

“I received heavy criticism for (applauding) and I think that it’s totally deserved, I understand it, I apologise for it, it was unjustifiable,” said De la Fuente.

“I came to the assembly convinced that we were seeing the goodbye of a president and it turned into the opposite.”

De la Fuente, 62, said the situation generated “emotional stress” and surprised those present.

“I arrived thinking it would be a resignation and we went into shock when we saw it wasn’t like that,” he added.

“I was not at the right level and I could not control my emotions. Later when you look and you see yourself on the cameras… I didn’t recognise myself.”

Interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha confirmed Thursday De la Fuente would “totally” be staying, but said he would be meeting women’s team coach Jorge Vilda next week.

Reports in Spain say Vilda is set to be forced out of his job despite the team’s World Cup victory in Australia and New Zealand.

Currently over 80 players are on strike from the women’s team because of the Rubiales incident and Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias says he will not play for the men’s team.

“I think he will want to come if he is called up, but I always stand for freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of thought,” added De la Fuente, who did not select the forward in his squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers later in September.”

– © AFP 2023 

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