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Spain soccer chief Luis Rubiales announces resignation

Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales, who has been engulfed in a scandal over allegations he gave an unsolicited kiss to a player after the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney, has announced his resignation.

“About my resignation, yes I am going to do [that]. I am going to [resign] because I cannot continue my work,” Rubiales told British broadcaster Piers Morgan on Monday (Australian time).

He said his decision came after talking with family and friends.

“Luis, you have to focus on your dignity and continue your life. [Otherwise] you will probably be hurting more people you love and the sport you love,” Rubiales said he was told.

In a later statement, he said his position had become untenable, with the Spanish football federation later confirming he had sent a resignation letter to acting president Pedro Rocha.

A Spanish prosecutor last week filed a complaint with the high court against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion over his allegedly unsolicited kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso.

The complaint, announced on Friday, describes how Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the mouth “without her consent” while holding her head with both hands after Spain defeated England to clinch victory in the World Cup final in Sydney on August 20.

Rubiales has described the kiss as mutual and consensual. He had withstood calls from players, government officials and others for him to resign – until Monday.

Rubiales had also been suspended for three months from all football activities by FIFA, pending an investigation by soccer’s world governing body into his actions.

“After the rapid suspension carried out by FIFA, plus the rest of the proceedings opened against me, it is clear that I will not be able to return to my position,” Rubiales said in his statement.

“Insisting on waiting and clinging … is not going to contribute anything positive, neither to the Federation nor to Spanish football.

“Among other things, because there are de facto powers that will prevent my return.”

He said he had also stepped down as a vice president of European soccer body UEFA.

Hermoso, Spain’s all-time top scorer with 51 goals, has yet to comment on Rubiales’ resignation.

The case has sparked outrage among players and many in wider Spanish society.

“The feminist country is advancing faster and faster,” Spain’s acting labour minister Yolanda Diaz posted on social media on Sunday in reaction to Rubiales’ resignation.

“The transformation and improvement of our lives is inevitable. We are with you, Jenni, and with all women.”

All up, 81 Spanish football players, including all 23 of its world cup winners, had vowed not to play for the national team again while Rubiales was still at the helm.

Despite the opposition, Rubiales continued to defend his version of events.

“I have faith in the truth and I am going to do everything in my power to make it prevail,” he said in his statement.

-with AAP

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