Luis Rubiales, Spain’s suspended football federation president, said Friday that he will continue to defend himself “to prove the truth”, after the country’s top sports court opened an investigation into his forcible kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso.
“I want to send a message to all the good people in our country and beyond our borders, including those women who have really been attacked and who have my full support and understanding: this is not about gender, it is about truth,” Rubiales said in a statement published by the newspaper El Mundo.
Rubiales, provisionally suspended from his post by FIFA for 90 days after kissing Hermoso following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win, is being investigated by Spain’s sports court (TAD), while the top criminal court has opened a preliminary probe into the incident.
The federation chief apologised for his behaviour in Sydney but repeated his belief that the kiss was consensual — Hermoso says it was not, and that she felt like a “victim of an assault”.
“On August 20, I made some obvious mistakes, for which I sincerely, from the heart, regret,” said Rubiales in his statement.
“I’ve learned that no matter how great the joy and how deep the emotion, even when you win a World Cup, sports leaders should be held to exemplary behaviour, and mine was not so.”
Rubiales reiterated that the kiss was “a mutual and consensual act” with “overflowing jubilation on both sides”.
The 46-year-old said he believed justice would prevail.
“I still have confidence in the independence of the bodies where this matter should be resolved, despite the political pressure and the interest-driven brutality of certain media outlets,” added Rubiales.
“Although information about this matter is being subjected to numerous manipulations, lies, and censorship, the truth has only one path, and that’s why I repeat, I trust that justice will be served.”
The Spanish football federation’s territorial presidents asked Rubiales to step down from his post last week, while over 80 women’s players are striking from the national team.