Following criticism for kissing Spain player Jenni Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup final presentation ceremony, Luis Rubiales resigned as head of the Spanish Football Federation.
Hermoso, 33, said the kiss after Spain defeated England was consensual and filed a judicial complaint last Tuesday.
In a statement, Rubiales stated that he had offered his resignation to federation acting president Pedro Rocha.
“I cannot continue my work,” he said on Piers Morgan’s television show.
The 46-year-old has also stepped down as vice president of Uefa’s executive committee.
The aftermath of the kiss has gripped Spanish football in recent weeks, overshadowing Spain’s World Cup victory, with Rubiales refusing to resign despite repeated calls.
Following Hermoso’s testimony on Tuesday, a prosecutor filed a lawsuit with Spain’s Supreme Court on Friday against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion.
Rubiales said the kiss was “mutual and “consensual,” but Fifa, football’s world governing body, had temporarily suspended him.
“It is clear that I will not be able to return to my position after Fifa’s quick suspension, plus the rest of the open proceedings against me,” Rubiales said in a statement.
“Insisting on waiting and holding out will not benefit either the federation or Spanish football.”
Rubiales stated that he hoped his departure would help Spain’s joint candidacy for the 2030 World Cup with Morocco and Portugal.
“I have faith in the truth, and I will do everything in my power to prevail,” he added.
“My daughters, my family, and the people who love me have suffered the effects of excessive persecution as well as many falsehoods, but it is also true that on the street, more and more every day, the truth is prevailing.”
81 Spanish players, including all 23 World Cup winners, indicated they would not play for Spain again while Rubiales was in charge.
World Cup-winning manager Jorge Vilda, a close associate of Rubiales, was fired on September 5 amid the scandal, and Montse Tome was selected as his replacement.
Politicians, football players, and celebrities have all spoken out against Rubiales, and demonstrators gathered last month at the federation’s offices to demand his resignation.
Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s interim Labour Minister, wrote on X (previously Twitter), “The feminist country is advancing faster and faster.”
“It is unavoidable that our lives will change for the better. We stand with you, Jenni, and all women.”
Spain’s equality minister, Irene Montero, added, “It’s over.”
When Morgan asked if there was anything specific that prompted him to resign, Rubiales replied that he talked to his family and sought advice from friends.
“I spoke with my father and daughters—they know it’s not about me—and some very close friends told me, ‘Luis, you need to focus on your dignity and continue your life because if you don’t, you’re going to damage people you love and the sport you love,’” Rubiales said.
“This was not only a personal issue for me. An attitude toward myself can have a significant impact on third parties. It was the only thing I could think of.”
Hermoso was greeted warmly by supporters and teammates of her native club, Pachuca, before their 2-1 win over the Pumas in Mexico’s Liga MX women’s league on Sunday.
The 33-year-old revealed a painting on the Hidalgo Stadium’s walls commemorating her achievements with Spain in the Women’s World Cup, as well as a framed jersey bearing her number 10.
Hermoso’s complaint was one of sexual assault, but Marta Durantez Gil added an allegation of coercion when filing with the high court after the forward told the prosecutor that Rubiales and his “professional entourage” pressured her relatives to say she “justified and approved what happened.”
The court must now present formal charges against Rubiales.
Rubiales had been observed holding his crotch near Queen Letizia and her daughter while celebrating Spain’s 1-0 win over England in Sydney prior to the kiss.
A high court judge will now review the complaint and determine whether to accept or dismiss it. If accepted, a magistrate will be assigned to conduct an inquiry, which will result in either a recommendation to go to trial or dismissal of the case.
Under Spanish law, a charge of sexual assault can result in a fine or up to four years in prison.
“The high court frequently deals with international crimes, such as terrorism or organized crime.” It is interested in this case since Mr. Rubiales’ alleged assault occurred in Australia,” BBC Madrid correspondent Guy Hedgecoe added.
On August 28, Spanish prosecutors launched a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the incident constituted a sexual assault offence.
At the time, Spain’s highest criminal court announced that it would launch an investigation due to the “unequivocal nature” of Hermoso’s words, stating that it was necessary “to determine their legal significance.”
Spain’s national sports tribunal (TAD) started a misconduct action against him earlier this month, saying that he had committed a “serious offence” by kissing Hermoso.
The TAD, however, fell short of the “very serious offence” that the government had asked for, which would have resulted in his suspension.