PETE JENSON: Rubiales knew there was no way back for him at Spanish FA

Luis Rubiales knew there was no way back for him at the Spanish FA after he realised he stood alone over kiss-gate… now there are fears that nothing will change until its election system is revamped

  • Luis Rubiales knew his days were numbered after being isolated at Spanish FA  
  • The feeling in Spain is that changes won’t happen until the system is changed 
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off!  

The suggestion that Luis Rubiales has finally stepped down as President of the Spanish Football Federation because it is in the best interests of the country’s World Cup bid, have been dismissed as lacking credibility by many in Spain.

The belief is that his decision had been made some time back, once he knew that he stood alone in world football without the support of FIFA and UEFA, and that he had to concentrate his energy on fighting to clear his name in the courts after Jenni Hermoso filed an official complaint against him.

His speech to the Spanish Federation’s assembly when he shouted five times that he would not resign came before FIFA suspended him and launched an investigation. 

Once the game’s governing body had taken that stand it was already time for him to begin plotting a way back from his ‘I will not resign’ rant. When UEFA president Aleksander Seferin also condemned his behavior it became even more clear that there was no way back.

He is understood to have informed his allies still in the Spanish Football Federation last week of his intention and finally on Sunday evening the man he had left as interim president Pedro Rocha had it confirmed to him that he would be issuing a statement of resignation.

There was no way back for Luis Rubiales after realising he was alone without support from FIFA and UEFA over kiss-gate

Rubiales has been widely condemned after kissing Jenni Hermoso at the Women’s World Cup final, with FIFA suspending him 

There has been outcry over Rubiales’ conduct and the current running of the Spanish FA 

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The fact that he is fighting to clear his name with the possibility that a case of sexual assault could go to trial, also weighed heavy. 

He could have played up to FIFA and UEFA by saying that, on reflection, his behavior was grossly inappropriate but that might have contradicted his case for the defence that he is the victim of a witch-hunt and not the perpetrator of assault which is likely to carry a year’s suspended sentence and a fine if he is found guilty. He needed to focus on his defence and not on getting his job back.

The fear now is that despite Rubiales’ resignation, nothing is really going to change in Spain until the way elections are held changes. Even if there is a female candidate, with Elvira Andres a possibility, or a big name stands (Iker Casillas has been mentioned in the past) for as long as just 140 members vote for the new president nothing will change.

The current system has been under attack since the Rubiales case blew up in the aftermath of the Spanish women’s team’s World Cup success.

There is general dismay that just 140 Federation delegates pick the president and that the regional federation presidents have huge clout within this 140.

Rubiales was initially reluctant to step down despite coming under fire for his actions. Hermoso (R) later filed a formal complaint against him

It’s a system which lends itself to an exchange of favours potentially allowing any president who keeps his regional bosses sweet by bringing international matches to their regions, or securing them subsidies, call in those favours ahead of elections.

There are over 31,000 clubs in Spain affiliated to the Spanish Football Federation and there are calls for those clubs to somehow each have a vote in deciding the new president, making the process far more democratic.

As Spain’s well-respected El Pais journalist Ramon Besa said on Sunday night: ‘This all started with Rubiales but it must not end with Rubiales.’

Those profound, long-term structural changes in how the president is selected, however, might have to wait until next December when Rubiales’ mandate was supposed to end and when there is likely to be a more definitive election with a longer mandate.

The immediate election to pick Rubiales’ replacement needs to happen within the next month and whoever wins will need to see Spain through the formal presentation of its candidature for the 2030 World Cup, then through the Euros and the Olympics. But then after the Olympic Games in Paris they will have to seek re-election.


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