Spain men’s team captain Alvaro Morata has criticised FA president Luis Rubiales for his “unacceptable behaviour” after he kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup 15 days ago.
On Monday, the Spanish men’s team called an impromptu press conference where Morata read a statement on behalf of the squad alongside fellow senior captains Marco Asensio, Cesar Azpilicueta and Rodri which was also released on the Spanish Football Federation website.
It read: “We want to reject what we consider to be unacceptable behaviour from Mr Rubiales, who has not lived up to the institution he represents.
“We firmly and unequivocally stand on the side of the values that this sport represents.
“Spanish football must be a driving force for respect, inspiration, inclusion, and diversity and must set an example with its behaviour both on and off the field.”
Morata also expressed solidarity “with the players whose success has been tarnished”.
Spain’s Sport Administrative Tribunal (TAD) on Friday opened a case against Rubiales for “serious misconduct.”
Rubiales’ behaviour has sparked outrage in Spain and abroad, but so far, the 46-year-old has refused to resign from his position.
Hermoso, along with her 22 team-mates, has said she will not play for the national team until Rubiales quits.
FIFA has suspended Rubiales from all football-related activities for three months while it conducts an investigation.
FA president issues fresh defence
Last Friday, Rubiales issued a fresh defence of his actions at the Women’s World Cup final medal ceremony.
Rubiales’ statement came as the Spanish football federation called for him to step down.
In his statement, he said: “The spontaneity and happiness of the historic moment led us to carry out a mutual and consented act, the product of great enthusiasm.
“At no time was there any aggression, indeed, there was not even the slightest discomfort, but an overflowing joy in both.
“I repeat: with the consent of both parties, both in the affectionate hugs, as well as in the peak and subsequent farewell full of affectionate mutual gestures, that occurred on the medals delivery stage.
“I have also felt the growing support of people on the street and on social media.”
Rubiales’ statement in full
“On August 20, I made some obvious mistakes, which I regret sincerely, from the heart. It is true that for such errors I have asked for forgiveness because it was fair; and now I do it again with humility. I do it convinced and with the purpose of improving.
I have learned that no matter how great the joy is and deep the emotion, including a World Cup win, sports leaders should be required to exhibit exemplary behavior, and mine was not.
“Therefore, I reiterate, once again, my apologies for this to the footballers, the federation and other football entities in a clear, emphatic and unmitigated manner. Also to football fans and to all those who may have been offended by my actions.
“I also gave the corresponding explanations, telling the truth of what happened. It’s my only version, the one that I’ve maintained from the beginning and I continue to defend and I am not going to modify.
“The spontaneity and happiness of the historic moment led us to carry out a mutual and consented act, the product of great enthusiasm. At no time was there any aggression, indeed, there was not even the slightest discomfort, but an overflowing joy in both.
“I repeat: with the consent of both parties, both with affectionate hugs, as well as the kiss and subsequent parting thereafter full of affectionate mutual gestures, which occurred in the medal ceremony on stage.
“Evidence, expert reports, documentation, videos, etc. have been provided and will continue to be provided. Pertinent evidence that proves the reality of what happened. Evidence is not opinions, it’s clear facts.
“From the beginning the RFEF, through its integrity department, carried out the pertinent procedures. I was called and collaborated to clarify the facts. I am the most interested party. I will continue to collaborate in all areas so that all of this until it comes to an end.
“In this sense, I have also gone along with the procedure opened by FIFA to defend my position. And I will continue to do so with all the other (proceedings), where I can demonstrate my honour.
“I am especially concerned that some of those who should proclaim and help guarantee the separation of powers in our country, insist on taking part and putting pressure on me, instead of letting justice act with all the guarantees, staying uninvolved.
“Throughout this period I have suffered an unprecedented political and media lynching from which I have remained completely on the fringes. Not only nationally but globally. Despite this, I have also felt the growing support of people on the street and on social media.
“I feel that something has changed and in the face of such spurious injustice and public judgment, ordinary citizens, women and men alike, have come together. I want to thank you here and now.
“It’s time to thank you infinitely for your immense support, for believing me, for not getting carried away by this campaign fabricated against me. Popular support reinforces for me the idea that this issue has been magnified and taken out of context for other reasons.
“I continue to trust in the independence of the bodies where this issue must be resolved, despite the fact that the political pressure and that of certain media with interests is brutal.
“And that the information on this matter is being subject to a multitude of manipulations, lies and censorship. But the truth only has one path and that is why, I repeat, I am confident that justice will be done.
“Today, the TAD (administrative court) has decided to open a file on me. As there is no reason, according to the resolution supported by said body, to classify any action as very serious, a provisional suspension may not be applied by the CSD Board of Directors.
“I’ll continue to defend myself to prove the truth. I want to send a message to all the good people in our country and beyond our borders, including those women who’ve really been abused, and who have my full support and understanding: this isn’t about gender, it’s about the truth.
“In the name of Feminism, it must not be about trying to sink a man – or a woman – without a fair trial. Equality is about identical rights for everyone. Justice must be applied to people without the gender having an impact on the result.”
Spanish minister: Damage done to our sport and our country
Meanwhile, a Spanish government legal panel handling sports issues opened a formal case against Rubiales.
Spain is hoping to remove him independently of a FIFA process that has already suspended him provisionally.
The government panel will decide if he abused his authority by kissing Hermoso or damaged the image and reputation of Spain at a sporting event, as the government claims.
He could be banned from office for two years.
When the eyes of the world were on our players, his acts caused damage to our sport and our country that is difficult to repair,” said Miquel Iceta, Spain’s acting minister of culture and sport.