The president of Spain’s football federation has refused to resign after he kissed a Women’s World Cup champion after the final last weekend.
Luis Rubiales, 46, grabbed player Jennifer Hermoso and kissed her on the lips during the awards ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
Ms Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward and key contributor to Spain’s victory, said: “I did not like it, but what could I do?”
The footballer said such acts “should never go unpunished”, in a statement.
Mr Rubiales claimed the kiss was “mutual” and “with consent” at a meeting of the Spanish football federation’s general assembly on Friday.
He added that he was the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists” after rapidly repeating “I won’t resign” four times.
In the version of events Mr Rubiales gave to the assembly, he said Hermoso had lifted him up in celebration and he asked her for “a little kiss?” and she said yes.
“The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters,” Mr Rubiales said.
He said that he would defend his honour in court against politicians, including two ministers, who called his kiss an act of sexual violence.
Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s deputy prime minister, was indignant following Mr Rubiales’ decision, saying he had to go.
Ms Diaz tweeted: “What we have seen today… is unacceptable. The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for chauvinistic actions is over.
“Rubiales cannot continue in office.”
His defiant defence of the kiss at the meeting followed a widespread backlash against his behaviour.
Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias, who has two caps for Spain’s men’s side, has said he will not play for the national team in protest, “until things change and these kinds of acts don’t remain unpunished”.
The striker, 30, called “for a fairer, more humane and decent football”, adding: “I am sad and disappointed.”
FIFA opened a disciplinary case against Rubiales on Thursday.
Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said Mr Rubiales’ attempt to apologise, which came after he initially insulted his critics, was unconvincing, and that “he must continue taking further steps” to be held accountable.
In his apology released on Monday, Mr Rubiales said: “We saw it as something normal, natural and not in any way in bad faith. But outside it seems that a commotion has been created.
“When you are president of an institution as important as the federation, you have to be more careful.”
Before the forced kiss, Mr Rubiales had grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture from the section of dignitaries at the stadium, with Spain’s Queen Letizia and the 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia standing nearby.
The controversy has overshadowed the final and Spain’s first triumph in the global tournament.
The team arrived back in Madrid a few days ago after delivering heartbreak to England- with Olga Carmona’s first-half goal proving too much for the Lionesses.
Hermoso started the match in the World Cup final in Sydney, but was denied the chance to get on the scoresheet after her penalty was stopped by England goalkeeper Mary Earps.