3 Sep, 2023 @ 14:15
1 min read

Spain’s caretaker prime minister takes aim at football chief Luis Rubiales once more

Pedro Sanchez says apologies are 'insufficient' over Spanish FA chief kissing World Cup winning player Jenni Hermoso on lips
Cordon Press image

SPAIN’S caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has once again voiced criticism of the embattled head of the Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, who is still refusing to quit despite the pressure on him to do so over his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup Final.

Without naming him directly, Sanchez referred to Rubiales on Saturday at a party event in Malaga. He described his behaviour at the August 20 football match in Sydney, which Spain won 1-0 against England, as ‘shameful’. 

Rubiales was first caught on camera grabbing his crotch when Spain won the match, despite standing just metres from Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter the infanta Sofia, and then he forcibly planted a kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso. 

“One cannot aspire to represent Spain with attitudes and statements that embarrass us,” the Socialist Party leader said. 

“All of this controversy has not damaged the Spain brand,” he argued. “Because the Spain brand is the exemplary reaction of the Spanish female football players and the spectacular reaction of Spanish society who have said enough is enough.” 

Sanchez initially took aim at Rubiales just two days after the World Cup final, slamming his half-hearted apologies for his behaviour as ‘insufficient’. The chairman has also been publicly criticised by other members of the Cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz. 

Rubiales has been under huge pressure to quit since the controversy began, and has been suspended by FIFA from his role at the Spanish Football Federation as well as from his vice-presidency of UEFA as a precautionary measure.

However, he is refusing to quit and has railed against what he called ‘false feminism’ carrying out a ‘social assassination’. 

Last week it emerged that the government’s CSD national sports council does not have the powers to remove Rubiales from his role. The government has requested his suspension by the CSD on the basis that he has damaged the image of Spain and its sports both on a national and an international level.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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