SPAIN’S regional football chiefs on Monday night unanimously called on the beleaguered Football Federation chairman Luis Rubiales to resign, as the controversy over the forcible kiss he gave player Jenni Hermoso after the women’s team won the World Cup final in Sydney last Sunday rumbled on. 

“After the latest events and the unacceptable behaviour that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents call on Mr. Luis Rubiales to immediately present his resignation as president of the [Royal Football Federation],” read a statement released last night, after a five-hour meeting in Las Rozas, Madrid. 

The call marked a change in tack for the Federation, which had until now supported its embattled chairman, who at the weekend was suspended by FIFA for his actions and has also been widely criticised by politicians and the public alike for his unsolicited kiss. 

Yesterday it emerged that the public prosecutor at the national High Court has opened an investigation into whether the kiss could constitute a sexual assault offense. 

As well as the forcible kiss, Rubiales has also been widely criticised for grabbing his crotch in an obscene gesture as the Spain team defeated England 1-0 at the World Cup final. He was standing just metres from Spanish Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter Sofia at the time. 

The regional football chiefs and the acting chairman Pedro Rocha could, however, have gone further with their actions on Monday and decided on a motion of no confidence against Rubiales. In the end, however, they settled for calling on him to resign. 

Whether this will happen is for now unknown. On Friday, when reports had been leaked to the press that Rubiales was to quit, he instead made an extraordinary and sometimes rambling speech to the assembled members of the Federation, in which he claimed he was the victim of a witch hunt and saw him rail at what he called ‘fake feminism’. 

During that speech, which was given a standing ovation by Federation members, he repeated the words ‘I will not resign’ five times. 

The statement released on Monday evening by the Federation also suggested that a restructuring will follow, albeit without offering more details. 

While he is suspended from his roles both as Federation chief and vice-president of UEFA, the governing body of football in Europe, Rubiales is not permitted to make any more public statements about the ongoing controversies surrounding his behaviour.

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