Spain’s men’s national team have condemned the “unacceptable behaviour” of Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales, but called for unity as they focus on upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Rubiales has been provisionally suspended by FIFA for an initial period of 90 days, pending an investigation into his behaviour at the World Cup final when he kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy and medals presentation.
Hermoso has said she did not consent to the kiss, and along with her 22 team-mates, has said she will not play for the national team until Rubiales – who has refused to quit – resigns.
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— Spanish Football (@SpainIsFootball) September 4, 2023
On Monday, the Spanish men’s team called an impromptu press conference where Alvaro Morata read a statement on behalf of the squad alongside fellow senior captains Marco Asensio, Cesar Azpilicueta and Rodri, which was also released on the Spanish Football Federation website.
“Once in Las Rozas (training base), the national team players want to emphasise several issues regarding recent events that have harmed the image of Spanish football,” the statement read.
“First and foremost, we want to convey, once again, our pride and heartfelt congratulations to the women’s national team for winning the World Cup in Sydney.
“It’s a historic milestone filled with significance that will mark a before and after in Spanish women’s football, inspiring countless women with an invaluable triumph.
“Therefore, we want to express our regret and solidarity with the players whose success has been tarnished.
“We want to reject what we consider unacceptable behaviour on the part of Mr Rubiales, who has not lived up to the institution he represents.
“We firmly and unequivocally stand on the side of the values that this sport represents. Spanish football must be a driving force for respect, inspiration, inclusion, and diversity and must set an example with its behaviour both on and off the field.
“Starting today, we face a crucial training camp for the future of Spanish football on our path to qualify for Euro 2024 with two matches against Georgia and Cyprus.
“We would like to focus on sporting matters from now on, considering the importance of the challenges ahead.”
Spain manager Luis de la Fuente had previously apologised for applauding when Rubiales told RFEF’s extraordinary general meeting he would not be resigning in the wake of the controversy.
As well as his post-match conduct during the medal ceremony, Rubiales, 46, had also grabbed his crotch in the stadium’s VIP area in celebration, when he was stood metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter.
The RFEF regional heads have also called for Rubiales’ resignation, while members of the Spanish government have added their voices to those demanding he steps aside.