SPANISH football chiefs are finally demanding kiss-row president Luis Rubiales quits.
Rubiales, who is now facing a “sexual assault” probe, has refused to step down amid the furore over kissing Spanish World Cup-winning star Jenni Hermoso on the lips at the trophy presentation.
The sport’s world rulers Fifa have provisionally suspended him for 90 days and launched proceedings – and are said to want him banned for a maximum term of 15 years, the Daily Mail claims.
Now Spain’s regional football presidents have announced after a crisis meeting on Monday Rubiales must go as he has “seriously damaged the image” of the sport in Spain with his “unacceptable behaviour”.
Just three days earlier the 46-year-old won a standing ovation from part of the Spanish FA.
But the country’s football big-wigs appear to have had a change of heart as pressure on Rubiales soars.
The Spanish FA’s regional presidents held a five-hour meeting on Monday – concluding he should resign IMMEDIATELY.
In a lengthy statement they said: “After the latest events and the unacceptable behaviors that have seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents request that Mr. Luis Rubiales immediately present his resignation as president of the RFEF.”
It follows a growing range of protests from across Spain and the football world against Rubiales.
He was pictured appearing to pull Hermoso in at the final ceremony after Spain beat England 1-0 in the women’s World Cup final last week, before embracing and kissing her.
He was also seen grabbing his crotch at the same event in Sydney. Prosecutors – who have launched a preliminary criminal investigation into a possible sexual assaullt over the kiss, have received a complaint about “obscene exhibitionism before a minor” over that incident.
Spain’s Princess Infanta Sofía was nearby when he carried out the act.
Hermoso, 33, was furious when Rubiales claimed the kiss after the game was “consensual”.
She hit back with a statement explaining she “felt vulnerable and the victim of aggression” straight after the incident.
Rubiales did apologise, saying: “I’ve no doubt made a mistake and I have to admit it”.
But he then insisted he had no intention of leaving his post.
That defiance, however, has only helped to deepen the outrage at his actions, as well as sparking wider criticism of his leadership.
The Lionesses and LaLiga clubs joined in the surge of protests, with the public and politicians also voicing their displeasure.
And the whole coaching team of Spain’s World Cup winners quit, except for manager Jorge Vilda.
But Rubiales’ mum Angeles Bejar has taken drastic action to support him.
The retired hairdresser has locked herself in a church, going on a hunger strike and demanding Hermoso tells the truth “over an inhumane witch-hunt”.
Around 200 supporters gathered near the church to back her son, causing police to shut off nearby roads.
Earlier, Euro football bosses had rejected the Spanish FA’s (RFEF’s) extraordinary plea to kick LaLiga clubs out of the Champions League
They asked Uefa to ban their four teams – plus Europa League and Europa Conference League representatives – amid the Rubiales crisis.
RFEF told the European ruling body that Spanish government attempts to get Rubiales suspended were in breach of rules on outside meddling.
And Andreu Camps, RFEF general secretary, claimed Uefa action was needed over what he called “interventionism” by Spanish ministers.
RFEF chiefs’ move was seen as a potential bid to silence Rubiales’ critics. Uefa rules state: “Mem-bers shall manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties.”
But Uefa do not want to get involved, insisting this is a Fifa matter.
If “embarrassed” Fifa did try to impose the reported 15-year ban on Rubiales and the Spanish FA fought it, it could see their national team and all sides competing in European competition banned too, the Mail adds. – Sun.