Thursday, 24 August 2023, 21:36
The pressure has increased so much on Luis Rubiales that in the next few hours he will announce his resignation as head of Spanish football after five years of conflict and just five days after Spain's national team were crowned world champions in Sydney.
The president of the Spanish Football Federation (FEF) had planned to defend his management record to grow women's football in the last five years at the extraordinary general assembly scheduled for Friday at the Ciudad del Fútbol in Las Rozas, but has reconsidered and now plans to announce his departure instead.
The initial idea was to get the backing of the regional federations to appease tempers and resist political pressure to resign. However, player Jennifer Hermoso's statement through the Futpro union, which represents the footballer and demanded that the national sports council should intervene because of the unwanted kiss on the lips that the head of football gave her at Spain's celebration at the FIFA Women's World Cup, was the last straw.
As the hours progressed it looked as though dismissal was the only option to remove Rubiales. The government increased its pressure on him one day before the assembly. Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, who warned in an interview that if football did not fix the problem, the government would bring the complaints it has for his macho gesture to the attention of the Administrative Court of Sport (TAD). "This is the great opportunity for Spanish football to show that it not only respects women's rights but that it will defend them," he said.
The pressure was already unbearable for Rubiales, who planned to give explanations about what happened with the Spanish player as well as a review of what he has done under his mandate in relation to the growth of women's football, but he is dejected. It is not even clear whether the assembly will be held, as at least half of the 140 members must be present for a quorum to exist, and this Thursday several of the assembly members said they had no intention of attending.
Throughout this afternoon, when Rubiales' resignation started to take shape, a first summit took place between the leader, his head team and different regional leaders to decide who can provisionally take the helm of Spanish football.
According to the new Sports Law in Spain, Rubiales could be disqualified for between two and 15 years for his unseemly conduct, according to articles 104 and 108 of the aforementioned law, in which the act of forcibly kissing is qualified as "unacceptable conduct that will lead to immediate consequences". An action that goes to the heart of gender equality, one of the flagships of a coalition government that boasts of being at the forefront of defending and protecting women.
The assembly, the only direct body capable of presenting a motion of censure to remove its president, is made up of 140 members (20 ex officio and 120 elected), almost all under Rubiales' control and with an absolute male majority. Only six women are members: four non-professional female players, one female futsal player and one female referee. This is equivalent to 4.3% of the representation.
"There is no parity whatsoever, it is very presidential and undemocratic," said the legal adviser of the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE), María José López, who pointed out that, despite the fact that the presidents of the regional federations are elected by their own bodies, "many are dependent on Rubiales", as it is he who gives them a specific position in the federation's organisational chart. It matters little now. As of this Friday, Rubi will be history.
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