Spanish midfielder Jenni Hermoso
joined a mass strike of female players on Friday after saying she did not consent to being kissed by her country's soccer federation chief, Luis Rubiales
, after Spain's victory in the Women's World Cup final.
In a statement released by women players' union Futpro, Hermoso and 80 other players said they would not accept an international call-up "if the current leadership continues" at the Spanish federation (RFEF).
Rubiales, 46, defied expectations by refusing to resign at an emergency RFEF meeting earlier Friday.
The chief said in a fiery speech that his kiss on Hermoso's lips during the World Cup final medal ceremony on Sunday was "mutual, euphoric and consensual" and she had said "OK" when he asked her if he could give her "a peck."
He also asserted that "she was the one who lifted me in her arms and brought me close to her body."
However, Hermoso hit back strongly against his claims later Friday, saying she felt "vulnerable and the victim of an assault".
"I want to clarify that at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me and in no case did I seek to lift up the president," Hermoso said in the Futpro statement.
'They invent words.'
"I do not tolerate my word being questioned and much less that they invent words that I did not say."
Futpro said in the statement that every player signing it, which included the 23 World Cup winners, were taking a stand to force change.
"It fills us with sadness that such an unacceptable event is succeeding in tarnishing the greatest sporting success of Spanish women's soccer," it read. "We wish to declare that all the players signing this document will not return to a national team squad if the current leadership continues."
Before the World Cup 15 players had taken a similar stance against the federation and coach Jorge Vilda
, but many relented and three were part of the team's triumph in Australia and New Zealand.
Many players, including double Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas
, had written messages of support for Hermoso on social media, some including the phrase "it's over" -- potentially referring to Rubiales' leadership of Spanish soccer.
Now Putellas, Hermoso, player of the tournament Aitana Bonmati
and many other players say they will not play for Spain again until Rubiales and potentially others leave their posts.
Rubiales had said he was planning on renewing controversial coach Vilda's contract and hiking his salary, during his speech.
The Spanish government have started a process which may allow them to suspend Rubiales from his post, while FIFA have opened a disciplinary investigation into his behaviour at the final.
Hermoso published a separate statement on her own social media accounts which went into depth.
"(Rubiales' words are) part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated," wrote Hermoso. "I am sure that as a world champions we do not deserve a culture which is so manipulative, hostile and controlling.
"This type of incident joins a long list of situations that us players have been reporting in the last few years ... this is just the straw that broke the camel's back and all the world was able to see it.
"Attitudes like this have been part of the day to day of our national team for years."
'I will not resign.'
Hermoso's words and the player strike came in the wake of Rubiales' defiant speech and refusal to bow to the immense pressure against him. "I will not resign, I will not resign, I will not resign," shouted Rubiales at the RFEF meeting.
Rubiales said the pressure he has received this week was an attempt "to publicly assassinate me" with Vilda and others applauding his words.
Rubiales said he had been "hunted" since taking the job in May 2018, while insisting his kiss could not be compared to sexual assault.
"For god's sake, what will women think who have really been sexually assaulted?" said Rubiales.
Before the vast majority of Spain's most talented players decided to strike, politicians and other figures criticized Rubiales.
"What we have seen today at the federation assembly is unacceptable," wrote second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz
on social network X, formerly known as Twitter. "The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over."
The country's High Council of Sport (CSD) said it would move against Rubiales.
It promised to submit complaints it had received about the incident to the Spanish Sports Court (TAD).
"I think that this could be the 'Me Too' of Spanish soccer," CSD president Victor Francos
told a news conference, explaining he would be able to suspend Rubiales if TAD decides to initiate proceedings against him next week. rbs/dj
© Agence France-Presse