THE players of the men’s national team of Spain have condemned the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ of the country’s football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales.
The 46-year-old Rubiales has been in the news for the wrong reasons since he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s FIFA Women’s World Cup triumph last month.
The RFEF president has refused to step down from the role despite a three-month suspension by FIFA and widespread condemnation of his conduct during the medal presentation ceremony in Sydney, Australia.
While Rubiales has repeatedly claimed that he did nothing wrong, Hermoso has insisted that the kiss was not consensual.
The men’s side, led by captain Alvaro Morata, have expressed their “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,” Morata said in a statement on behalf of the Spain squad last night.
“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.”
Rubiales has been criticised for his general conduct after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England at Stadium Australia on August 20, including grabbing his crotch while celebrating in the VIP area, with Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter standing nearby.
Apart from the FIFA suspension, Spain’s national sports tribunal (TAD) has opened a misconduct case against Rubiales.
On 1 September, Rubiales acknowledged he had “made mistakes” but repeated his belief that the kiss was consensual.
He added: “I will continue to defend myself to prove the truth.”
After calling a press conference, Morata read out the statement alongside fellow senior players Marco Asensio, Cesar Azpilicueta and Rodri.
“We want to convey, once again, our pride and heartfelt congratulations to the women’s national team for winning the World Cup in Sydney,” he said.
“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.”
Spain are preparing for their Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Georgia on Friday and Cyprus next Tuesday.