The Spanish women’s team coach has described the World Cup kissing row as “a real nonsense” that has “tarnished a well-deserved victory” for the players and the country.
Jorge Vilda has been an ally of Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales since he was backed by the Spanish football federation after 15 Spanish players pulled out of the squad late last year in row over their emotional and physical wellbeing.
Mr Rubiales was suspended by FIFA on Saturday after forward Jenni Hermoso insisted she did not consent to him kissing her on the lips as her team celebrated their 1-0 win against England.
The squad has refused to play any further games, while eleven coaching and technical staff across Spanish football resigned after he refused to resign in the wake of the row.
But Mr Vilda told Spanish sports site La Marca: “The events that have taken place since Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in its history and to this day have been a real nonsense and have generated an unprecedented situation, tarnishing a well-deserved victory for our players and our country.”
He was among those applauding Mr Rubiales during a defiant speech to the Spanish Football Federation’s general assembly on Friday, said that Spain’s victory has been “harmed” by his “inappropriate behaviour”.
“There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular,” he added.
Victor Francos Diaz, president of the Spanish government’s High Council of Sport (CSD), said it “respects the decision” of FIFA to suspend Mr Rubiales for 90 days, pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.
He said that while the “facts are analysed and investigated” it is right that “the person responsible for the events is suspended from his duties”.
Mr Francos previously said that although Mr Rubiales can’t be sacked by the government, the sports council will use a legal procedure in a sports tribunal.
“We want this to be a ‘Me Too’ of Spanish soccer,” he added.
Four assistant coaches for Spain’s senior team, plus two coaches of the women’s youth teams, and five other staff members for the senior and youth women’s teams resigned on Saturday afternoon.
So far, 56 players, including the 23 who made up the World Cup squad, have vowed not to play until the “federation leadership is removed”.
Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward, said “in no moment” did she consent to the kiss.
Mr Rubiales has claimed he is the victim of a witch-hunt by “false feminists”, vowing to defend his honour in court against politicians, including two ministers, who called the kiss an act of sexual violence.
In the version of events Mr Rubiales gave in his speech on Friday, he said Hermoso had lifted him up in celebration and he asked her for “a little kiss?” and she said yes.
“The kiss was the same I could give one of my daughters,” he claimed, accusing her of “lying” about her lack of consent.
Before the kiss, Mr Rubiales grabbed his crotch in a lewd victory gesture from the section of dignitaries at the stadium, with Spain’s Queen Letizia and the 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia standing nearby.
But the Spanish FA has stood by its president, who says the kiss was consensual, and threatened legal action to defend him.
Meanwhile people have been gathering outside the Spanish Soccer Federation in Madrid to protest, with some carrying banners and holding up red cards.
Gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain in recent years with tens of thousands of women taking part in street marches protesting sexual abuse and violence.