Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has emphatically refused to step down from his role.

The 46-year-old exec received immediate backlash for kissing soccer star Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain collected the Women’s World Cup title on Sunday. The triumph was Spain’s first ever trophy at the prestigious tournament.

High-ranking government officials in Spain have since called on Rubiales to resign. However, the RFEF president has now proclaimed that he intends to remain at the position.

Rubiales made the remarks during a speech at a general assembly called by the Spanish federation. “I will not resign, I will not resign,” proclaimed Rubiales as many in the crown applauded. “A social assassination is taking place.”

“I’m ready to be vilified to defend my ideals,” the soccer exec continued. “I don’t deserve this manhunt I have been suffering.”

Rubiales also apologized for separate inappropriate gesture at tournament

Along with previously apologizing for the kiss, Rubiales also expressed regret for grabbing his crotch during celebrations at the tournament final. “I want to apologize without reservation for everything that happened in the box, when in a moment of euphoria I grabbed that part of my body that you have already seen,” stated Rubiales.

“Of course I have to apologize, to the Queen, and to everyone who has felt offended. I have been in countless boxes and I have never behaved like that.”

Union representing Hermoso looking for correct penalty

Nevertheless, Futpro, a players’ union currently representing Hermoso, wants Rubiales punished for the incident. “We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable,” the union said in a statement.

Rubiales took the position of RFEF president in May of 2018. The incidents at the recent Women’s World Cup final are not the only issues regarding the Spanish women’s team. Head coach Jorge Vilda was previously surrounded by controversy in 2022 when 15 players raised concerns about the manager. Rubiales discussed offering Vilda a contract extension and raise during his speech on Friday as well.

Photo credit: IMAGO / El Mundo