Spain’s soccer federation late Friday threatened legal action to protect its president’s reputation after a member of Spain’s victorious women’s World Cup championship team said he had forcibly grabbed and kissed her on the lips, prompting calls for his resignation.
Luis Rubiales, the Royal Spanish Football Federation chief, has insisted he did nothing wrong with regard to the player, Jennifer Hermoso, who said she never consented to his actions but had faced pressure to publicly back Mr. Rubiales.
Mr. Rubiales’s kiss — broadcast live to millions — cast a pall over the team’s celebrations and recalled a history of accusations of sexism in Spanish soccer.
“I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me,” Ms. Hermoso said Friday in a statement issued by the country’s soccer union. “I do not tolerate my word being questioned, much less that it be made-up words that I haven’t said.”
In a statement, the federation vowed to take “as many legal actions as are appropriate in defense of the president’s honor” following Ms. Hermoso’s account of what happened. Mr. Rubiales said that Ms. Hermoso lifted him up, citing this as evidence she approved of his actions, and his organization has backed him.
Ms. Hermoso has denied intending to lift Mr. Rubiales.
Players on the Spanish women’s team, along with dozens of others, have said they will refuse to play for the national team until “the current managers,” including Mr. Rubiales, are gone.