RFEF regional presidents ask Rubiales to resign

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The regional presidents of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) have demanded the resignation of president Luis Rubiales and called for a “profound and immediate restructuring” at the organisation as it tries to manage the fallout surrounding his unsolicited kiss of Spain forward Jenni Hermoso.

A committee consisting of the presidents of the RFEF’s regional federations met for five hours on Monday to discuss next steps after FIFA hit Rubiales with a provisional suspension for 90 days and the Spanish government also sought his removal over his behaviour following the Women’s World Cup final.

“After the latest events and unacceptable behaviour that have severely damaged the image of Spanish football, the presidents ask, with immediate effect, that Luis Rubiales presents his resignation as president of the RFEF,” the statement read.

Along with demanding Rubiales’ resignation, the committee praised Spain’s World Cup-winning squad, whose 23 members said they would not represent their country while Rubiales remains in his post.

The committee also asked acting RFEF president Pedro Rocha to revoke the federation’s request for UEFA to intervene in the matter — which could see Spanish teams withdrawn from European competitions if UEFA agrees — and to lead “a new era of dialogue and reconciliation with all football institutions.”

FIFA hit Rubiales on Sunday with a provisional suspension from all football-related activities for 90 days while disciplinary proceedings are ongoing.

Rubiales’ mother, Ángeles Béjar, has retaliated against his treatment and gone on hunger strike in a church in his hometown of Motril, Andalusia, on Monday.

Rubiales has refused to bow to growing pressure to resign, leading the Spanish government — via its Supreme Sports Council (CSD) — to seek his removal, filing a complaint with Spain’s Administrative Sports Court (TAD), which is set to meet this week.

Rubiales’ refusal to quit led 11 members of the Spain women’s team staff to resign, while coach Jorge Vilda and men’s coach Luis de la Fuente both issued statements distancing themselves from Rubiales.

LaLiga teams showed their support for Hermoso over the weekend, with Cadiz players posing with a banner saying “We are all Jenni” and Sevilla’s players wearing T-shirts with the slogan “It’s over,” used by Spain’s women on social media.

Rocha had called the meeting of Spain’s regional federation presidents for Monday, with the agenda described as “analysing and evaluating the current situation” following FIFA’s decision to temporarily remove Rubiales from office.

Spain’s acting second vice president, Yolanda Diaz, met with the head of Hermoso’s union, Futpro, as well as representatives of another of Spanish football’s unions, AFE, and the women’s league, Liga F.

TAD, a tribunal made up of seven lawyers that rules on sporting legal matters, was due to convene on Thursday but has come under pressure to bring that meeting forward given the public outcry against Rubiales.

If the court accepts that Rubiales has a case to answer, the CSD will then be able to proceed with his suspension, in parallel to that of FIFA.

Spain’s acting equality minister, Irene Montero, called for an “exemplary response” to Rubiales’ conduct on Monday, saying in an interview with Cadena SER that “all of [Spanish] society” expects action to be taken.

Hundreds of people attended a protest organised by the feminist group Feminismos Madrid in the centre of the Spanish capital on Monday evening in support of Hermoso and her Spain teammates, with the aim of “calling for a sport free of sexist violence.”

Hermoso made a first public appearance since Rubiales’ refusal to resign on Saturday, attending the Women’s Cup match between Atletico Madrid and AC Milan and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

Spain prosecutors said they have opened a preliminary sex abuse investigation into the Rubiales incident.

On Monday, a source within UEFA told The Associated Press it will not comply with the Spanish federation’s request for a sanction that would bar Spanish teams from competitions such as the Champions League and could sway public opinion in favor of letting Rubiales keep his job.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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