Madrid, Sep 1 (EFE).- The coach of the Spanish men’s national soccer team, Luis de la Fuente, apologized on Friday for applauding a speech last week by the under-fire president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF).
During an RFEF general assembly on Aug. 25, Luis Rubiales refused to step down from his position as president despite widespread international criticism for kissing Spain striker Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during celebrations after the Spanish women’s team’s victory in the World Cup final over England.
Rubiales insisted the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual and consensual,” and claimed he was the target of “false feminism” which was seeking his “social assassination.”
He was applauded by several members of the audience at the general assembly, including Luis de la Fuente.
Hermoso has denied that the kiss was consensual, and released a statement via the soccer players’ union Futpro that the incident had left her feeling “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression.”
During a press conference on Friday held to announce the Spain squad for upcoming international fixtures, de la Fuente said he “received harsh criticism, which is fully deserved.”
“I am sorry and I ask for forgiveness,” he said, explaining that he was “convinced” Rubiales would announce his resignation at the assembly.
“I was overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to live up to it and I couldn’t control those emotions,” he added.
Reading from a prepared statement, he said “these gestures do not represent my values or the way I act in life. I have always been on the side of equality and respect. In my 26 years as a coach, I have always had impeccable behavior.”
While he has asked for forgiveness, he said he “did not think” he should resign, as some have called for.
“I made an inexcusable human error that right now, if I could go back, I would not make again. I have always been on the side of equality and respect. We all have to improve on equality – beginning, of course, with me – and we are in that process,” he said.
De la Fuente also said he had not spoken with Hermoso since the scandal broke, admitting that he has “lacked the courage” to reach out to the player, whom he understands is “going through a difficult time.”
She “is not responsible for anything that is happening,” the coach insisted. EFE