Football governing body FIFA, has banned Luis Rubiales – the former President of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) – from all football-related activities for three years over his unwanted kiss on Spain’s Women’s World Cup-winning star player Jennifer Hermoso.
In a statement released on Monday, 30th October, 2023, FIFA stated that Rubiales’ actions during the medal ceremony at the Women’s World Cup final in August was in breach of article 13 of its disciplinary code.
“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respecting and protecting the integrity of all people and ensuring that the basic rules of decent conduct are upheld,” said football’s world governing body, adding that the ban on Rubiales remained subject to a possible appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee.
The fallout over Rubiales’ behavior triggered a crisis in Spanish soccer and sparked condemnation in Spain and across the world. Following weeks of fierce criticism, Rubiales resigned last month as the country’s soccer president.
Rubiales, 46, had described the kiss as “mutual” – a claim Hermoso denied, saying she did not consent and was not respected.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Rubiales refused to resign despite public outcry and protests and was given a provisional 90-day ban from football by FIFA.
“This case relates to the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023, for which Mr Rubiales had been provisionally suspended for an initial period of 90 days,” FIFA said in its statement on Monday.
Article 13 of FIFA’s disciplinary code – titled “offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play” – allows the organization to sanction someone if they are deemed to have violated “the basic rules of decent conduct” or behaved “in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”
Rubiales Under Investigation
Rubiales is now under investigation for “the crimes of sexual assault and coercion,” in a case being brought by Spanish prosecutors.
Rubiales has maintained his innocence, saying in an interview with Piers Morgan that there was “no harm, no sexual content, [and] no aggression.”
However, Hermoso said that the kiss was nonconsensual, saying she felt “disrespected” and “as an employee of the federation, no one protected me.”
Rubiales’ initial refusal to resign led 81 current and former Spain players to sign a letter saying they would not return to play for their country under his leadership.
His resignation, and the dismissal of national team coach Jorge Vilda, was followed by another standoff between the RFEF and players called up for Spain’s UEFA Nations League fixtures last month, which was resolved when the federation agreed to implement broader, structural changes.
Hermoso made a glorious return to international football last week, scoring in the 89th minute to give the world champions a 1-0 victory over Italy in the UEFA Women’s Nations League.