The Spanish football federation’s regional presidents asked suspended chief Luis Rubiales to resign on Monday after he forcibly kissed Women’s World Cup player Jenni Hermoso on the lips, sparking worldwide outrage.
“After recent events and the unacceptable behaviour that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents request that Luis Rubiales resign immediately as president of the RFEF,” said the federation (RFEF) in a statement following a meeting between the regional presidents.
The presidents said they backed interim chief Pedro Rocha, who called the meeting, to lead the organisation into “dialogue and reconciliation with all football institutions”.
The RFEF statement also urged an overhaul in the federation’s management.
“We will urge the relevant authorities to carry out a profound and imminent organisational restructuring in strategic positions of the federation in order to make way for a new stage in the management of Spanish football,” it read.
The regional presidents also congratulated the women’s team on their World Cup triumph in Australia and New Zealand. Presently 81 players, including Hermoso, are on strike, until the federation’s leadership changes.
Earlier Monday prosecutors at Spain’s top criminal court said they had opened a preliminary investigation into Rubiales’ kiss on grounds it could constitute a crime of “sexual assault”.
“Prosecutors from the National Court have opened a preliminary investigation to look into the facts, which could constitute an offence of sexual assault,” a court statement said.
They would also contact Hermoso to offer her a chance to file a lawsuit within 15 days, the statement said.
Hermoso said in a statement last week that she felt like the “victim of assault” and that the kiss, during the medal ceremony after Spain won the Women’s World Cup in Sydney on August 20, was not consensual — Rubiales had said it was.