RFEF's acting President Pedro Rocha issued an official apology to "the football world" after Rubiales kissed a player and then refused to step down
The Royal Spanish Football Federation has "apologized to the football world" and announced the dismissal of head coach Jorge Vilda after the federation's president, Luis Rubiales, kissed player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup.
In a statement shared on the federation's official website on Tuesday, acting president Pedro Rocha (who took over after FIFA suspended Rubiales for 90 days) announced that the team "has decided to part ways with Jorge Vilda's services as the sports director and head coach of the women's national team."
Vilda took the position in 2015 and led the team to the 2023 World Cup victory. "When he took over as head coach of the national team in 2015, the national team was far from the elite, and it currently holds the second position in the FIFA rankings," the statement said.
Rocha commended Vilda on his "impeccable personal and sporting conduct" and said the former coach "has been a promoter of respect and sportsmanship values" in the sport.
The federation, RFEF, expressed "its gratitude" to Vilda for his "professionalism and dedication" throughout his tenure with the Spanish soccer team and wished him "the best success in the future," per their statement.
Vilda's employment was terminated two weeks after the Associated Press reported he attended an emergency assembly called by Rubiales.
During the assembly, Rubiales refused to step down as the team's president despite multiple reports that he would confirm his resignation. According to the New York Times, Rubiales said he'd become a victim of "social assassination" and "false feminism" while addressing the incident with Hermoso.
Rubiales' address was met with applause and support from the assembly's audience, including Vilda and the national men's team coach, Luis de la Fuente, the AP reported.
Additionally, the RFEF issued an apology to "the football world" for "inappropriate conduct" in light of the recent behavior from Rubiales, who was suspended "from all football-related activities" by FIFA on Aug. 26.
RFEF said in its second statement on Tuesday that they consider "it essential to present the most sincere apologies" to the football world "for the totally unacceptable behavior of its highest institutional representative during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and in the moments that followed."
After Spain's 1-0 win over England, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso, 33, by her face and kissed her on the lips.
Rubiales insisted that the kiss with Hermoso was "mutual and with the consent of" the player.
But, Hermoso refuted his claims, and in a statement said, "simply put, I was not respected. I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part."
Additionally, a report from the AP immediately following the kiss said Hermoso was seen in an Instagram video telling teammates in the locker room that she "didn't like it" after Spain's World Cup victory.
RFEF said Rubiales' "actions do not reflect at all the values of the whole Spanish society," nor its leaders or athletes. "Spanish society is an example of tolerance and civility, in all social and political spheres and has been an example of behavior and sporting decorum, as it has demonstrated for decades in all sporting events in which it has participated," the statement explained.
Rocha and RFEF's statement said that "the damage" caused to Spanish football, the sport and Spanish society "has been enormous" in the aftermath of Rubiales' actions.
"We feel deeply sorry for the damage caused and therefore, we must ask for the most sincere apologies and acquire a firm and absolute commitment that facts like these can never happen again," per the statement.
Rocha said RFEF is cooperating with FIFA to provide "all the documentary and administrative support required by both disciplinary bodies in order to have a definitive resolution as soon as possible to repair the damage caused" by Rubiales' behavior.
"We are particularly saddened and embarrassed by the additional hurt and distress this has caused," the statement continued.
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RFEF confirmed that a "review of the current management structures of the organization" remains underway, as well as "a whole set of actions to improve the governance of the Spanish Football Federation" in an effort to "repair, as far as possible, the damage caused."
In concluding the statement, Rocha congratulated the women's national team on their "historic win" and its "impact" on the future of Spanish football.
"In due course, it is our intention to give the spotlight back to them and to celebrate their achievement in the way that they deserve."
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