The president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales, has said he will resign three weeks after he forcibly kissed a triumphant Spanish women’s footballer after the team won the World Cup.
Rubiales has until now steadfastly refused to resign after the incident in the aftermath of the Spanish side’s 1-0 triumph against England on 20 August.
Last week Jenni Hermoso, the midfielder who was kissed by the 46-year-old, filed a complaint against him for sexual assault.
On Friday a prosecutor filed a complaint with Spain’s high court against the man who has been at the top of Spanish football’s domestic organisation for five years.
It said that there could be grounds to charge him with sexual assault as well as coercion.
Rubiales, who saw out his unremarkable playing career with three games in Scotland, told Piers Morgan that he would step down.
He said: “I cannot continue my work. My father, my daughters, I spoke with them.
“They know it is not a question about me, some friends very close to me, and they say to me: ‘Luis, now you have to focus on your dignity and to continue your life. Probably you are going to damage people you love.’”
In a statement released later he said: “Trying to hang on in hope and clinging on won’t result in anything positive for either the federation nor for Spanish football.”
The 46-year-old former player also suggested there were “real powers that would get in the way of my return”, adding: “I don’t want Spanish football to be damaged because of a campaign as disproportionate as this one.”
Speaking about the incident, Hermoso had said: “I did not like it, but what could I do?”
As well as the kiss, Rubiales had also been criticised for grabbing his crotch when victory over England in the final was confirmed, while standing next to Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia.
The Spanish football federation had already apologised for the “enormous” damage caused by the administrator as the saga dominated the weeks after the World Cup win, which should have been a high point for the sport in Spain.
It saw Rubiales refuse to quit, defiantly saying “I will not resign” five times at a meeting of the Spanish football federation on the Friday after the incident. He called the attempts to force him out “a social assassination” and criticised “false feminism”.
The reaction to his remarks in the room appeared contrary to the reaction outside it. There was a standing ovation, including by Jorge Vilda, the coach who had led the women’s side to victory.
Vilda’s support for Rubiales became the latest sore point in an acrimonious relationship between him and his squad, despite their win. He was sacked last week by the federation.
Another committed supporter for Rubiales came from closer to home, his mother, who went on hunger strike in his name. Ángeles Béjar had locked herself in a church in her home town of Motril, southern Spain, to protest against the treatment of her son.
However those backing Rubiales were outnumbered. There was a walkout of staff from Spain’s women’s team after his refusal to resign and 81 players, including all of the 23 squad members of the victorious side, said they would refuse to play again for their country while he was in position.
He had already been suspended by Fifa for “all football-related activities at national and international level” for 90 days, pending further disciplinary proceedings. Spain’s regional football presidents piled on the pressure by calling for him to “immediately resign”.