Spain men’s football team condemn Rubiales for ‘unacceptable behaviour’
The Spain men’s national football team have condemned the “unacceptable behaviour” of Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF).
On Monday the players called an impromptu press conference at their Las Rozas training base where the team captain, Álvaro Morata, read a statement on behalf of the squad.
The forward was joined by his senior vice-captains, Marco Asensio, César Azpilicueta and Rodri, with the rest of the Spain men’s squad also in attendance. The statement was also released on the RFEF website.
Rubiales has been provisionally suspended by Fifa for an initial period of 90 days, pending an investigation into his behaviour at the World Cup final when he kissed the Spain player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy and medal presentation after La Roja defeated England 1-0.
Hermoso has said she did not consent to the kiss, and along with her 22 teammates has said she will not play for the national team until Rubiales – who has refused to quit – resigns.
“The national team players want to emphasise several issues regarding recent events that have harmed the image of Spanish football,” the statement read. “First and foremost we want to convey, once again, our pride and heartfelt congratulations to the women’s national team for winning the World Cup in Sydney.
“It’s a historic milestone filled with significance that will mark a before and after in Spanish women’s football, inspiring countless women with an invaluable triumph. Therefore, we want to express our regret and solidarity with the players whose success has been tarnished.
“We want to reject what we consider unacceptable behaviour on the part of 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.”
The Spain manager, Luis de la Fuente, had previously apologised for applauding when Rubiales told RFEF’s extraordinary general meeting he would not be resigning in the wake of the controversy. The remainder of the team’s statement said they wished to focus on “sporting matters” in the coming days.
“Starting today, we face a crucial training camp for the future of Spanish football on our path to qualify for Euro 2024, with two matches against Georgia and Cyprus,” the statement concluded. “We would like to focus on sporting matters from now on, considering the importance of the challenges ahead.”
As well as his post-match conduct during the medal ceremony, the 46-year-old Rubiales had also grabbed his crotch in the stadium’s VIP area in celebration, while he was stood metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter, Sofia.
The RFEF regional heads have also called for Rubiales’s resignation, while members of the Spanish government have added their voices to those demanding he steps aside.