The Spanish football federation has sent its "most sincere apologies" for the "totally unacceptable behaviour" of suspended president Luis Rubiales over his forcible kiss on a Women's World Cup player.
The RFEF offered its "most sincere apologies... for the totally unacceptable behaviour of its highest institutional representative during the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 and in the moments that followed", it said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rubiales has been suspended by FIFA pending an investigation but has refused to resign, defending the kiss as "just a peck" which he claimed was consensual.
But midfielder Jenni Hermoso said it was not and it had left her feeling like the "victim of an assault".
"The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and to the values of football and sport as a whole has been enormous," the RFEF said in extending the apology to FIFA, UEFA "and especially the players of the Spanish national women's team".
Rubiales' statements after the incident were "inappropriate and meaningless" and "not (the position) of the RFEF" which was "saddened and embarrassed" by the distress they had caused.
The federation, which initially came under fire for not calling for Rubiales' resignation until eight days after the incident, said it had opened an investigation into his actions in order "to ensure that such behaviour is not repeated".
It had also committed to conducting "a thorough review of all policies and procedures of the organisation", pledging to present "in the coming days a whole set of actions to improve the governance of the Spanish football federation and to repair, as far as possible, the damage caused".
Spanish women's football team coach fired
Also on Tuesday, RFEF has sacked Jorge Vilda, the coach of its World Cup-winning women's team, as part of the fallout caused by the kiss, a source close to the matter told Reuters.
A new board formed after the suspension of Rubiales by FIFA over the allegedly non-consensual kiss during the World Cup victory celebration two weeks ago has terminated Vilda's contract, the source said.
Considered a close ally of Rubiales, Vilda had been under fire since last year after 15 players staged a mutiny calling for his resignation because of his inadequate coaching methods and calling for conditions to match those of the men's squad.
Most of the players involved were cut out of the squad even as some demands were met.
Danae Boronat, a sports presenter who interviewed Spain's leading female players for her book "Don’t Call Them Girls, Call Them Footballers”, said players accused Vilda of micromanaging, such as instructing senior players what to say in interviews.
Vilda and Luis de La Fuente, the men's national team manager, applauded Rubiales when he refused to resign on August 25 but later issued statements condemning his behaviour.