Receive free Football updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Football news every morning.
Spain’s football chief Luis Rubiales has been left more isolated than ever after the sport’s regional bosses demanded his resignation over kissing a player after the Women’s World Cup final.
The unanimous call on Monday at a meeting of the country’s football association marked a dramatic turn against Rubiales by some senior officials who had stood to applaud him last Friday when he refused to resign and in a defiant speech decried what he called “false feminism”.
It capped a frenetic day in the storm over the non-consensual kiss Rubiales planted on the lips of World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso, coming hours after prosecutors opened a preliminary inquiry into the case and as his mother — one of his last public supporters — said she was going on hunger strike.
At the weekend Fifa, football’s global governing body, suspended Rubiales for three months from his role as head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
The federation’s 19 regional presidents said in a joint statement on Monday night: “Following recent events and unacceptable behaviour that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents request that Mr Luis Rubiales immediately tender his resignation as president of the RFEF.”
Rubiales has not spoken since Friday when his combative speech stoked even greater outrage over the kiss and his claim that it was consensual — something Hermoso has said is “categorically false”.
The regional football presidents said they would also push for “a profound and imminent restructuring of strategic positions at the federation in order to make way for a new era in the management of Spanish football”.
Earlier in the day Yolanda Díaz, one of Spain’s acting deputy prime ministers, linked Rubiales’ actions to the limited number of women in the football association’s ranks. “The impunity with which Mr Rubiales acted shows that the federation is plagued by a deeply structural machismo,” she told RTVE television.
The government has vilified Rubiales, with one minister saying it would work to ensure he “cannot run Spanish football again”. But the administration does not have the power to sack him from the independent football association.
The organisation is run by a 140-member assembly — just six of whom are women — that could eject Rubiales only if two-thirds of its members opposed him in a vote of no confidence.
Last week the government filed a complaint against him over “serious misconduct” at a sports tribunal, an attempt to get him suspended before Fifa’s move, but he now faces a more serious threat from Spanish prosecutors.
They said on Monday they had opened a preliminary investigation into “incidents that could constitute a crime of sexual assault”.
Noting that Hermoso has said “unequivocally” that the kiss was not consensual, prosecutors said that to open criminal proceedings they would need to receive a formal complaint from her in the next 15 days.