Embattled Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales has used his federation to accuse World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso of lying by saying she did not consent to being kissed by him.
The latest defiant statement from the 46-year-old came in the early hours of Saturday morning amid mounting pressure from within Spanish football and the government for him to resign.
It was expected Mr Rubiales was going to step down on Friday – before going on the attack against his accusers in a speech at a federation assembly.
That sparked an outcry from Hermoso and her teammates who vowed not to play for their country again – days after winning the World Cup for the first time.
In a statement on Friday night the 33-year-old forward and key contributor to Spain’s victory, said “in no moment” did she consent to the kiss.
The Spanish football federation’s lengthy statement showed a series of images claiming to be Hermoso encouraging being lifted by Mr Rubiales.
“Mr President’s feet are ostensibly lifted from the ground as a result of the player’s action,” the statement said.
“The tests are conclusive. Mr President has not lied.
“The RFEF and Mr President will demonstrate each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself.”
There is a threat of legal action – taking away from the success the federation says it wants to celebrate.
The statement said: “The RFEF regrets that after a sporting success as extraordinary as the one that occurred in the World Cup, it cannot be celebrated as the situation and success deserves for completely extra-sporting reasons.”
FIFA has started a case against Mr Rubiales but UEFA – of which he is a 250,000 euro a year vice president – has yet to comment.
Mr Rubiales grabbed Hermoso and kissed her on the lips during the awards ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
Lionesses back Hermoso
The player said she was “vulnerable” and “the victim of an aggression”, as she and the rest of the Spain team revealed they will not play any further matches until the “federation leadership is removed”.
A total of 56 players, including all of the 23-strong World Cup-winning squad, signed the joint statement after Mr Rubiales refused to resign following his controversial kiss at the final.
England’s Lionesses – who were defeated by Spain in the World Cup final – backed the players’ boycott, saying: “Unacceptable actions allowed to happen by a sexist and patriarchal organisation. Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth.
“The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people shouldn’t need convincing to take action against any form of harassment.
“We all stand with you, @jennihermoso and all players of the Spanish team.”
The Spanish government has started legal action in a bid to suspend Mr Rubiales from his post – and the head of Spain’s women’s football committee has quit his role.
‘I won’t resign’
Mr Rubiales claimed the kiss was “mutual” and “with consent” at a meeting of the Spanish football federation’s general assembly on Friday.
He added that he was the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists” after rapidly repeating “I won’t resign” four times.
In the version of events Mr Rubiales gave to the assembly, 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,” Mr Rubiales said.
He said that he would defend his honour in court against politicians, including two ministers, who called his kiss an act of sexual violence.
Spanish football’s ‘Me Too’?
Mr Rubiales cannot be sacked by the government, but the head of the state-run Sports Council, Victor Francos, says it will use a legal procedure in a sports tribunal.
“We want this to be a ‘Me Too’ of Spanish soccer, ” said Mr Francos.
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.
People have gathered outside the Spanish Soccer Federation in Madrid to protest against Mr Rubiales, with some carrying banners or holding up red cards.
Before the kiss, Mr Rubiales had 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.
The controversy has overshadowed the final and Spain’s first triumph in the global tournament.
The team arrived back in Madrid after delivering heartbreak to England – with Olga Carmona’s first-half goal proving too much for the Lionesses.
Hermoso started the match in the World Cup final in Sydney, but was denied the chance to get on the scoresheet after her penalty was stopped by England goalkeeper Mary Earps.