Luis Rubiales, the now-suspended president of the Spanish soccer federation, announced Sunday that he is resigning from the role in the wake of a weeks-long national scandal that began when he kissed soccer player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during Women’s World Cup awards ceremony on Aug. 20.
Hermoso, who said the kiss was not consensual,formally accused Rubialesof sexual assault on Sept. 6. Spanish state prosecutors subsequently filed a lawsuit against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion.
“Many people think you should resign as president. What are you going to do?” Morgan asked Rubiales, citing the last weeks’ “ferocious pressure” on him, his family and his young daughters.
Yes, I’m going to,” Rubiales said. “‘Cause I cannot continue my work.” He said he consulted with his father, daughters and close friends before arriving at the decision.
This is now a question of “not only me,” he said.
“I will defend my honorability. I will defend my innocence,” Rubiales wrote on social media, where he also posted a resignation letter.
Rubiales was suspended from his post by FIFA on Aug. 27, a day after he refused to step down when he delivered a defiant speech to the general assembly of his federation in which he portrayed himself as a victim.
He has dismissed the outcry as a “witch hunt” by “false feminists” and insisted that it was a consensual kiss — whichHermoso herself has directly refuted. Rubiales had earlier refused to resign amid multiple ongoing investigations into his conduct.
The prosecutors’ office in Madrid said that, according to a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty. The new law eliminated the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault,” sanctioning any unconsented sexual act.
Spain’s government, players’ unions, players and many citizens have come out in support of Hermoso. Rubiales, meanwhile, has become a soccer outcast even while he refused to resign.
—The Associated Press contributed to reporting.