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26 Aug, 2023 17:23

FIFA suspends 'kissing' Spanish football chief

Luis Rubiales has been sanctioned by the sport’s governing body over his “non-consensual” display of affection with a female star
FIFA suspends 'kissing' Spanish football chief

FIFA has suspended Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales for 90 days while continuing to investigate the allegedly forced kiss that he planted on star player Jenni Hermoso after the country’s national team won the Women’s World Cup earlier this month in Sydney.

Rubiales is provisionally banned from participating in football-related activities at the national and international level, pending disciplinary proceedings against him, FIFA said in a statement on Saturday. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee also ordered that Rubiales and all RFEF officials and staffers refrain from contacting Hermoso, either directly or through third parties, while its investigation is ongoing.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee will not provide any further information on these disciplinary proceedings until a final decision has been taken,” the football governing body said. “FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respect the integrity of all persons and therefore condemns with the utmost vigor any behavior to the contrary.”

The kiss in question occurred on the victor’s podium after Spain defeated England to win the Women’s World Cup on August 20. Rubiales, who was also caught on camera grabbing his crotch after the final whistle blew, embraced Hermoso and kissed her on the lips during the victory celebration.

Hermoso, the leading all-time scorer in Spanish women’s football history, called the RFEF chief’s behavior “sexist, impulsive, out of place and non-consensual.” She issued a statement on Friday, saying, “I want to reiterate that I did not like what happened. I felt vulnerable and was a victim of assault.” The women’s national team vowed not to play again until Rubiales and other federation leaders resign.

The RFEF responded by threatening to take legal action against Hermoso in defense of Rubiales. The federation said it would present evidence to counter “each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if it is the case, by the player herself.” Rubiales refused to resign and claimed that he asked and received permission from Hermoso to give her “a little peck.” He added that he was being targeted by “false feminists” for “social murder.”

The Spanish government’s sports council said on Friday that it would suspend Rubiales while his case is reviewed by a court of arbitration. If the court finds that he breached Spanish sports regulations, such as provisions on “dignity and decorum” and “abuses of authority,” he could be banned for between two and 15 years.