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Luis Rubiales: Spanish government takes FA chief to tribunal after World Cup final kiss

The Spanish secretary of sport says he "wants this to be Spanish football's MeToo moment" after the government started legal proceedings seeking to suspend football federation president Luis Rubiales for kissing World Cup star Jenni Hermoso on the lips.

Rubiales has refused to resign despite overwhelming pressure after the incident following Spain's Women's World Cup final win over England.

Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings against the 46-year-old former player on Thursday.

The Me Too movement seeks to end violence against women and shot into mainstream consciousness in 2017 after film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of numerous sexual offences - he was subsequently found guilty and jailed.

"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," Victor Francos, secretary of sport and head of the state-run National Sports Council said.

"There has to be a change. The government wants to warn, to be very clear and say that there are things that can't happen again."

The sports council cannot suspend Rubiales unless the court rules that the kiss is in violation of the professional sports code.

Rubiales kissed the Spain forward during the presentation ceremony after the final in Sydney. She later said on social media "I didn't like it".

He apologised earlier in the week and had been expected to announce his resignation at an extraordinary general assembly called by the federation, but instead vowed to "fight until the end".

On Friday he said sorry for grabbing his crotch while celebrating in the VIP area in Stadium Australia, with Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter standing nearby.

Spain's acting labour minister Yolanda Diaz said: "What we have seen today in the Federation Assembly is unacceptable. The Government must act and take urgent measures. Impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office."

Acting social rights minister Ione Belarra added: "Consent is not decided by the aggressor, it is decided by the woman. Mr Rubiales' violent, mafia-like discourse will not work against a country that has already changed. Everyone already knows what kind of man he is."

'This is unacceptable' - Spanish football reacts

Spanish players, clubs and organisations have all spoken out - largely against Rubiales.

Alexia Putellas, a Ballon d'Or winner and another member of the World Cup-winning team team, said: "This is unacceptable. It is over. With you partner Jenni Hermoso."

Another team-mate, Aitana Bonmati, wrote: "There are limits that cannot be crossed and we cannot tolerate this. We are with you partner."

Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias, who has won two caps for the Spain men's team, said: "As a footballer and as a person I do not feel represented by what happened today...

"I have made the decision not to return to the national team until things change and these types of acts do not go unpunished."

Several Spanish football clubs, including Barcelona, Sevilla, Espanyol and Racing Santander, have also released statements critical of Rubiales.

Hermoso played for Barcelona from 2013 to 2017 and from 2019 until last year when she joined Mexican side Pachuca.

A club statement read: "FC Barcelona wishes to make clear that it considers totally improper and inappropriate the RFEF president's behaviour during the celebrations for the World Cup victory achieved by the Spanish women's team. The incident we consider to be deplorable."

England forward Beth Mead wrote on social media: "The game, the Spanish players deserve more, no players should have to endure this. It's unacceptable, and also laughable that these men still are allowed so much power."