The leaders of the regional bodies that make up the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have submitted a collective application to Rubiales.
Senior officials of the Spanish Football Federation have called on suspended president Luis Rubiales to resign over his behavior at the Women’s World Cup, including forcibly kissing Spain’s World Cup player Gini Hermoso on the lips, sparking a global outcry.
The heads of the regional bodies that make up the Royal Spanish Football Federation made the request in a collective statement on Monday.
“After recent events and unacceptable behavior that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents demand the immediate resignation of Luis Rubiales as president of the Spanish Football Federation,” the RFEF regional presidents said in a statement following Monday’s meeting.
The regional leaders said they support interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha, who called the meeting, to lead the organization into “dialogue and reconciliation with all football institutions”. They also called for a comprehensive reform in the management of the federation.
“We will urge the relevant authorities to carry out a deep and imminent organizational restructuring in the federation’s strategic locations in order to make way for a new phase in the management of Spanish football,” the regional presidents said.
Prosecutors at Spain’s highest criminal court said in a statement on Monday that they had opened a preliminary investigation into Rubiales’ kiss on the grounds that it could constitute a crime of “sexual assault”.
Hermoso said last week that she felt like a “victim of assault” and that the kiss, during the medal ceremony after Spain won the Women’s World Cup in Sydney on August 20, was not consensual.
Prosecutors said in the statement that they would contact Hermoso to offer her an opportunity to file a lawsuit within 15 days.
Rubiales, 46, was defiant about the kiss. At a federation meeting on Friday, where he was widely expected to resign, Rubiales refused to step down, describing the kiss as “spontaneous, mutual, joyful and consensual”.
The Spanish Football Federation issued a statement saying that the embattled president “will defend himself legally before the competent authorities” to prove his “complete innocence.”
The Associated Press news agency also reported on Monday that the Spanish federation has called on UEFA to ban him from international competitions due to government interference in connection with the Rubiales controversy.
The suspension would prevent Spanish teams from participating in competitions – such as the Champions League – and the unprecedented demand appears to be aimed at provoking Spanish football fans and powerhouses such as Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the men’s national team, into supporting efforts to back Rubiales’ job bailout.
The governing bodies of international football have long-standing rules that prevent national governments from interfering with the management of domestic football associations.
However, the regional presidents of the Spanish Football Federation, in their statement on Monday, demanded that the interim president of the RFEF, Rocha, withdraw this request to UEFA immediately.
The major clubs in Spain are scheduled to participate in the Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, which was conducted by the European Football Association, and the men’s national team will play matches on September 8 and 12, in the 2024 European Championship qualifiers.