The Spanish secretary of sport says he “wants this to be Spanish football’s MeToo moment” after the government started legal proceedings seeking to suspend football federation president Luis Rubiales for kissing World Cup star Jenni Hermoso on the lips.
Rubiales has refused to resign despite overwhelming pressure after the incident following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win over England.
Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings against the 46-year-old former player on Thursday.
The Me Too movement seeks to end violence against women and shot into mainstream consciousness in 2017 after film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of numerous sexual offences – he was subsequently found guilty and jailed.
“The government starts today the procedure so that Mr Rubiales has to give explanations before the Sport Court and if the Sport Court agrees, I can announce that we will suspend Mr Rubiales from his functions,” Victor Francos, secretary of sport and head of the state-run National Sports Council said.
Rubiales kissed the Spain forward during the presentation ceremony in Sydney. She later said on social media “I didn’t like it”.
He apologised earlier in the week and had been expected to announce his resignation at an extraordinary general assembly called by the federation, but instead vowed to “fight until the end”.
On Friday he said sorry for grabbing his crotch while celebrating in the VIP area in Stadium Australia, with Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter standing nearby.
‘This is unacceptable’ – Spanish football reacts
Spanish players, clubs and organisations have all spoken out – largely against Rubiales.
Alexia Putellas, a Ballon d’Or winner and another member of the World Cup-winning team team, said: “This is unacceptable. It is over. With you partner Jenni Hermoso.”
Another team-mate, Aitana Bonmati, wrote: “There are limits that cannot be crossed and we cannot tolerate this. We are with you partner.”
Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias, who has won two caps for the Spain men’s team, said: “As a footballer and as a person I do not feel represented by what happened today…
“I have made the decision not to return to the national team until things change and these types of acts do not go unpunished.”
More to follow.