New photo increases pressure on under-fire Spanish FA chief Rubiales

New photo shows Luis Rubiales lifting World Cup star Athenea del Castillo on his shoulders as the Spanish FA chief faces calls to resign over kiss-gate scandal

  • Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the Women’s World Cup final
  • The Spanish FA president is facing calls to resign following the controversy
  • New photos have shown Rubiales lifting another World Cup star on his shoulders 

Luis Rubiales faces mounting pressure after photos emerged of the Spanish FA president lifting Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder during their Women’s World Cup celebrations.

Rubiales is at the centre of the World Cup ‘kiss-gate’ scandal after kissing Spanish women’s player Jennifer Hermoso on the mouth without consent after Spain beat England 1-0 in the World Cup final on Sunday.

He has refused to resign despite being hit with a sexual assault probe as one football chief launched a criminal complaint in the wake of his actions towards Hermoso. 

He eventually apologised but Hermoso rejected the chance to appear in his apology video despite him begging “My position is at stake, do it for my daughters”.

Spanish outlet El Confidencial has reported that Rubiales is also facing accusations that he took a Mexican woman on a six-day work-funded holiday to New York.

Luis Rubiales is at the centre of the World Cup scandal after kissing Spanish women’s star Jennifer Hermoso (centre) on the mouth without consent after they won the World Cup

New photos have shown Rubiales carrying Athenea del Castillo on his shoulders after the final

Rubiales conduct has led to the Spanish FA chief facing growing calls to resign from his role

He is also alleged to have harassed and humiliated a female colleague, who claimed he asked her about the colour of her underwear and about wearing ‘knee pads’ in meetings when they worked together.

Pressure continues to mount on Rubiales after further photos emerged from Spain’s celebrations following the final whistle in the final in Sydney.

The Spanish FA chief was seen lifting and carrying the Real Madrid winger over his shoulders, increasing scrutiny over his attitude to the women’s national team stars.

The Spanish FA has confirmed it will hold an Extraordinary General Assembly on Friday at their headquarters.

The organisation has added that internal proceedings are underway over the controversy following the World Cup final ceremony.

Attacking midfielder Hermoso, who plays for CF Pachuca, admitted she ‘didn’t like’ it when Rubiales grabbed her and held her in a tight embrace before kissing her on the lips on the celebratory podium.

Rubiales also grabbed his crotch in what was described by USA legend Megan Rapinoe as a ‘signal of a deep level of misogyny and sexism’, who insisted his kiss was ‘physical assault’.

Spanish football chief Miguel Ángel Galán has filed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office in Madrid and the State Attorney General’s Office alleging Rubiales’ actions constituted sexual assault.

Rubiales’ controversial actions, for which he later apologised, have been widely criticised

Galan, president of CENAFE – the country’s national school for football coaches – said: ‘I would like to file a complaint against Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Soccer Federation, for committing an alleged crime of sexual assault against the Spanish women’s soccer team’s Jennifer Hermoso.

‘This was an intolerable act of sexist behaviour within our sport, which could constitute an alleged crime of sexual assault. I therefore request that a complaint be filed’.

Galan had already submitted a written complaint to Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD) and the Spanish FA (RFEF) itself, with his latest actions pursuing the criminal route.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez criticised Rubiales and demanded he explain the kiss. Mail Sport‘s Ian Herbert described Rubiales as ‘reptilian’ and ‘creepy’, while it emerged Rubiales reportedly begged Hermoso to shoot an apology video with him.

Rubiales is not thought to be considering resigning despite the controversy. 

He said in his apology: ‘There is also something I regret and it’s over something that happened between a female player and myself who enjoy a magnificent relationship the same as I have with other women players. I’ve no doubt made a mistake and I have to admit it.

‘At a moment of maximum excitement, without any bad intention or bad faith, what happened happened in a very spontaneous manner, I repeat without bad faith on either side… it has caused a controversy in some sectors and some people appear to have been upset and therefore I have to apologise… I have to learn from this.’

The news comes on the same day Mail Sport reported Spain coach Jorge Vilda appeared to grab a female staff member’s breast during the World Cup final celebrations.

Video footage taken seconds after Olga Carmona’s 29th-minute goal against the Lionesses shows the Spanish staff celebrating – and Vilda’s left hand seeming to linger on a female staff member’s breast. 

The Spanish FA will hold an Extraordinary General Assembly amid pressure on Rubiales

There have also been complaints around Vilda’s conduct from the players, amid allegations he created a controlling environment. 

Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo reported he forced players to keep the doors of their rooms open until midnight to check for himself that they were there before going to sleep.

Vilda was allegedly in charge of closing the door and making sure the lights were turned off. These practices were abandoned after the 2019 World Cup following complaints but there are still heavy restrictions on their freedoms while in camp.

Vilda’s control is said to be excessive to the point he will check their bags when they return from a shopping trip, while players also have to say who they are meeting if they want to leave camp, with all movement subject to strict surveillance.

In 2022, 15 players wrote to the Spanish FA claiming they would not be available for selection while Vilda remained in his position, asserting he was ‘damaging their mental health’.

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