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Spain men’s team say Rubiales kiss at women’s World Cup was ‘unacceptable behaviour’ after weeks of silence

The Spanish men’s football team have spoken out to condemn the “unacceptable behaviour” of federation president Luis Rubiales at the women’s World Cup.

Rubiales continues to refuse to resign despite a worsening crisis in Spanish football after kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips – which she says was non-consensual – while she celebrated her team’s World Cup victory on 20 August.

The weeks-long row has seen 81 female players vow to boycott the national team, mass resignations from coaches, and a mutiny by regional leaders of the Spanish FA – but the men’s team had remained silent until now.

A statement on behalf of the men’s squad, read out at a press conference on Monday by forward Alvaro Morata, said: “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.

“We want to express our regret and solidarity with the players whose success has been overshadowed.

“We want to reject what we consider unacceptable behaviour from Mr Rubiales, who has not lived up to the institution he represents.

“We firmly and clearly stand on the side of the values that sports represent. Spanish football must be a source of respect, inspiration, inclusion, and diversity, setting an example with its conduct both on and off the field.”

The players added: “We would like to focus on sporting matters from now on, considering the importance of the challenges ahead.”

Morata read the statement with fellow team captains César Azpilicueta, Rodri and Marco Asensio by his side – with the other players sitting in the room.

Rubiales has been provisionally suspended by the international footballing body Fifa and is facing a Spanish government case against him.

Spain’s Sport Administrative Tribunal (TAD) on Friday opened a case against Rubiales for “serious misconduct.”

“When the eyes of the world were played on our players, his acts caused damage to our sport and our country that is difficult to repair,” said Miquel Iceta, Spain’s acting minister of culture and sport.

Spain men’s coach Luis de la Fuente, who applauded Rubiales’ diatribe against what he called “false feminists” while refusing to resign, apologized on Friday for having clapped, saying, “I made a human error. It was inexcusable.”

“I committed some evident mistakes, for which I sincerely repent,” Rubiales said on Friday. He insisted the kiss with Hermoso was “mutual, consensual and occurred in a moment of euphoria” — a characterization that the player firmly denies.

He added he participated in Fifa’s investigation as well as the federation’s own internal probe.

“During all this time I have suffered an unprecedented lynching by news outlets and politicians that has completely marginalized me. Not just in Spain but internationally,” he said.

In a statement a week ago, Hermoso said she considered herself the victim of abuse of power and accused the federation of trying to pressure her into supporting Rubiales.

On Friday, the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, said he urged Rubiales “to say sorry, explain what he did and then, without doubt, consider resigning.”

The United Nations Human Rights office said in a social media message, “We join Spain’s Jenni Hermoso and all those working to end abuse and sexism in sport. Make this a turning point.”

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