GRANADA, Spain (Reuters) - Spain's men's coach Luis de la Fuente said he and his team would "just stick to football" as he was bombarded with questions on Monday about the resignation of football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales, announced a few hours earlier.
De la Fuente was visibly uncomfortable as he tried to avoid talking about his former boss after three weeks of scandal over allegations Rubiales gave an unsolicited kiss to Spain women's team player Jenni Hermoso as they celebrated their World Cup victory in Australia last month.
On the eve of Spain's Euro 2024 qualifier against Cyprus, de la Fuente dismissed the idea that the furore sparked by Rubiales in Sydney was a distraction for his players and said their focus was on playing as they did in Friday's 7-1 win away to Georgia.
Spain are second in Group A, nine points behind Scotland but with two games in hand.
"In here we think about football and we live in a bubble to be isolated. I think we have to focus on football and on what we football professionals can control," De la Fuente told a press conference.
"I have total and absolute respect for the decision taken by Mr Rubiales. People make decisions when they think they have to make them."
De la Fuente came under fire for applauding Rubiales last month when the federation president said he would not resign.
After six of the first seven questions from reporters on Monday were about Rubiales and the scandal, De la Fuente looked displeased when asked if he felt the need to send a message to the former president who hired him as manager in December.
"I have been working at the RFEF for 11 years. I have lived a long time before Luis Rubiales arrived," De la Fuente said.
"I am a football coach. Nobody has gifted me anything, I have earned it. I am grateful to all the people who have helped me throughout my life. And, no, I have not spoken to him."
Rubiales announced his resignation in a statement in which he said his position had become untenable.
His behaviour has sparked outrage in Spain and abroad and raised questions over sexism in sport. Rubiales also grabbed his crotch while standing close to Spain's Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter during the World Cup final.
A Spanish prosecutor filed a complaint with the High Court against Rubiales on Friday for sexual assault and coercion.
(Reporting by Fernando Kallás in Madrid; Editing by Ken Ferris)