The presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona – Florentino Perez and Joan Laporta – to have resigned from the management committee at the Spanish football federation (RFEF).
Neither of Spanish football’s two biggest club chiefs had quit the RFEF board during the presidency of Luis Rubiales – even after the disgraced official was facing huge public scrutiny for kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the Women's World Cup final, which she did not consent to.
Having seen Spain's entire playing squad and coaching staff (except crony Jorge Vilda) resign in protest, the worldwide backlash and public support for Hermoso, pressure from the Spanish government and a burgeoning criminal investigation, Rubiales somewhat reluctantly resigned as RFEF president in September but still refused to accept wrongdoing for his actions.
At one stage, RFEF even tried to hit its own self-destruct button in order to protect him by requesting expulsion from UEFA on grounds of government interference, seemingly prepared to derail the entirety of Spanish football for the sake of one man. It didn’t work and eventually RFEF, as an entity, was left to issue a grovelling apology to ‘the world of football’ as it attempted to pick up the pieces.
Rubiales, initially banned by FIFA for 90 days while a disciplinary process was undertaken, was eventually slapped with a three-year suspension from all football.
RFEF has been functioning with just an interim president, Pedro Rocha, for the past two months.
El Confidencial has reported that Perez and Laporta decided to step down since. Their names are no longer on the management committee list RFEF maintains on its website.
Presidential elections for the next term, 2024 until 2028, were always supposed to take place next year, but that election may be the source of the issue. A complaint was filed against Rocha and the management committee – including Perez and Laporta – in September, arguing that RFEF has been operating in breach of its statutes when its sole authority after Rubiales resigned should have been to call and oversee election. Rocha, in charge at this point by default, is accused of "acting as full-fledged president, with dismissals and decision-making that are not his responsibility."
The complaint was submitted by Miguel Galan, president of Spain's national coaches training centre, claiming that it is the reason for Perez and Laporta suddenly stepping down, despite initially staying on through the Rubiales saga.
"I believe that the legal services of Real Madrid and Barcelona have advised their presidents to resign from their positions when they received my burofax, in which I warned them that not calling elections for the presidency of the RFEF, thus failing to comply with its statutes, could lead to a possible crime of administrative prevarication," Galan told El Confidencial.
The idea that Perez and Laporta had been supportive of Rubiales up to his resignation is an uncomfortable juxtaposition. Aitana Bonmati, Hermoso's Spain teammate and former Barca colleague, thanked by Laporta by name in her acceptance speech upon winning the Ballon d'Or Feminin. But the insinuation from El Confidencial is that both he and Perez stood by Rubiales and were "determined to protect him" from the attention of government minister Miquel Iceta.