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Spanish government plans to suspend soccer president Luis Rubiales

Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales is facing increasing calls to resign. (Oscar J. Barroso/AFP7 via Getty Images)

The Spanish government plans to suspend national soccer federation president Luis Rubiales after he refused to resign Friday.

Rubiales has come under fire for his unsolicited kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s World Cup win on Aug. 20. Yet despite reports of his impending resignation, he refused to step down Friday in a defiant speech in front of the Spanish federation (RFEF).

In his speech, he referred to the kiss as “consensual” and blamed “false feminists” for seeking his “social assassination.”

“I’ve come under a lot of pressure. Perhaps somebody will look to remove me on Monday,” he said. “But we live in a country of laws. Is a consensual kiss enough to remove me? I’m going to fight until the end. I hope the law is followed, and that as there’s no reason to [remove me], it won’t happen.”

Victor Francos, the head of Spain’s government-run National Sports Council, said in a news conference Friday that the government was starting the legal proceedings necessary to suspend Rubiales.

“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,” Francos said.

Spain’s Higher Council of Sports also said Friday that it had received several complaints against Rubiales. If the RFEF president violated violated laws or regulations sanctioning sexist acts, he could be deemed unfit to hold office.

“The speech by Mr. Rubiales before the general assembly of the Spanish soccer federation is absolutely incompatible with representing Spanish sports and with the values of an advanced society like Spain’s,” the council said in a statement.

Beatriz Álvarez, who is president of the Spanish women’s league, told broadcast network RTVE that she was not surprised by the speech due to Rubiales’ ego being “above his dignity.”

“What surprises and scandalizes me are his words,” Álvarez said. “Every time he speaks he shows what kind of person he really is.”

FIFA announced Thursday that it has opened a disciplinary case against Rubiales and will investigate whether or not Rubiales violated its codes of “the basic rules of decent conduct” or behaved “in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”