All 23 players of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad have said they will not play for their country again as long as Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales remains in charge.
Forward Jenni Hermoso released a joint statement via her union FUTPRO on Friday in which she denied Rubiales’ claim that she consented to his kiss during Spain’s World Cup final celebrations.
The statement, co-signed by Spain’s entire World Cup squad and 58 former players, added that they would not return to play for the national team while Rubiales remains in his position.
It follows a week of controversy, criticism and widespread condemnation of Rubiales’ behaviour after Spain’s World Cup win in Sydney.
Earlier on Friday, Rubiales said calls for him to step down were a campaign of “social assassination” by “false feminists” during a speech to the RFEF’s general assembly in which he refused to resign.
“I want to clarify, as you can see in the images, that at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me,” Hermoso said. “I won’t tolerate that my word is called into question, and even less so that words are invented which I didn’t say.”
Hermoso and her teammates called for “real change to help the national team to keep growing, to be able to bring this great success to the generations to come” and said they would not play for Spain while “the current management” remains at the RFEF.
The president of Spain’s Sports Council (CSD) and its secretary of state for sport, Victor Francos, has confirmed that the CSD is seeking to remove Rubiales by bringing a complaint to the country’s Administrative Sports Court (TAD).
“This assembly, far from resolving the situation, increased the controversy,” Francos said. “The explanations given [by Rubiales] aren’t sufficient. The CSD today begins the procedure to suspend Luis Rubiales immediately from the RFEF presidency. … As the person responsible for Spanish sport I have to apologise to the players. They didn’t deserve this this week.
“Neither the CSD nor its president can remove [Rubiales]. I can’t sack anybody. But we can take the case to TAD if we believe a serious offence has been committed, and TAD can approve it or not.”
Rubiales had been widely expected to announce his resignation on Friday, but instead he used his platform at the federation’s assembly to attempt to justify his actions and attack his critics.
A series of statements condemning his response followed from Spanish clubs, players, politicians and governing bodies.
Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas described the situation as “unacceptable,” while World Cup MVP Aitana Bonmatí posted on X, formerly Twitter, that “there are limits that can’t be crossed and we can’t tolerate.”
“Everybody saw what happened. You [Hermoso] are the victim. I’m with you, friend,” defender Irene Paredes wrote.
Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias said he would not consider playing for the Spain men’s national team until the situation is resolved.