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Spain's Luis Rubiales won't resign amid World Cup kiss criticism, FIFA probe

Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales said he will not resign, despite criticism he faces for a kiss of midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the Women's World Cup trophy presentation Sunday in Sydney. Photo by Eidan Rubio/EPA-EFE/RFEF
Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales said he will not resign, despite criticism he faces for a kiss of midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the Women's World Cup trophy presentation Sunday in Sydney. Photo by Eidan Rubio/EPA-EFE/RFEF

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales said Friday he won't quit despite rampant criticism for kissing Spain's Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the Women's World Cup trophy presentation.

"I will not resign, I will not resign, I will not resign," Rubiales repeated to the crowd at a general assembly held at the federation headquarters in Madrid.

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The announcement was a bit of a surprise, as it followed media reports stating that he would step down. Rubiales, who cited "fake feminism" in his speech, claimed that it was Hermoso who initiated the exchange and brought him "closer to her body."

On Thursday, FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales. The 46-year-old executive kissed Hermoso during the presentation Sunday at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

He was caught on camera as he pulled the midfielder's head forward with both hands and kissed her on the lips.

FIFA said that Rubiales' actions "may constitute violations" of sections of its disciplinary code, which include "behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute."

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Hermoso, 33, initially said on Instagram Live and in interviews that she was not expecting the kiss and that she didn't like it.

The federation later claimed she said the kiss was "mutual." Hermoso released another statement through FUTPRO -- a women's soccer union -- saying that the union and her agency were "defending [her] interests" and discussing the matter with other involved parties.

"The moment Jenni showed up, she lifted me off the floor," Rubiales claimed Friday. "She grabbed me by the face. Was it because of her leg [injury]? I don't remember well. She lifted me off the floor. We almost fell. ... She was the one who carried me into her arms and brought me closer to her body.

"We hugged and I told her, 'Forget about the [missed] penalty [kick]. You've been fantastic. Without you, we wouldn't have won the World Cup."

Rubiales continues to release mixed messages amid ongoing criticism for the kiss. He initially called critics "idiots," but apologized Tuesday for his actions.

Soccer players and officials from the sport and government, including Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, later called the apology insufficient and requested further action against Rubiales.

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"I've come under a lot of pressure," Rubiales said. "Perhaps somebody will look to remove me on Monday. But we live in a country of laws. Is a consensual kiss enough to remove me? I'm going to fight until the end. I hope the law is followed, and that as there's no reason to [remove me]. It won't happen."

FIFA did not announce a timeline for its proceedings against Rubiales.

"I am telling the truth here today," Rubiales said. "Daughters, learn it, it is a life lesson. You are real feminists, not the fake feminism out there."

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