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FIFA bans Luis Rubiales from football for 3 years

October 30, 2023

The former head of the Spanish football association resigned following an unsolicited kiss to footballer Jenni Hermoso after the Women's World Cup final.

Luis Rubiales frowns during a press conference in October 2022
Rubiales came under fire for the non consensual kiss after Spain won the World Cup in AugustImage: Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee on Monday said it had banned the former president of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities for three years.

The soccer chief kissed Spain player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent after Spain won the title in August in Sydney in a 1-0 victory over England. A week later, FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales.

What FIFA said about its decision

"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," said a statement from FIFA. 

Rubiales came under pressure from members of the national women's team and Spanish politicians for his behavior. He eventually resigned as president in September, despite having previously insisted he would not do.

FIFA did not publish details of how disciplinary committee judges reached their verdict. However, it did say they had investigated charges relating to "basic rules of decent conduct" and "behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute."

In addition to the kiss, Rubiales was criticized for grabbing his crotch as a victory gesture while seated in an exclusive section of seats, close to Queen Letizia of Spain and 16-year-old Princess Sofia.

Why did it take Rubiales so long to step down?

Rubiales has the right to appeal the decision.

Emotional return to the pitch

Hermoso had earlier filed a legal complaint over the unsolicited kiss. Rubiales is also under criminal investigation over the incident. 

She was not picked for the first post-World Cup games in September, but returned on Friday to score an emotional late 1-0 winner against Italy.

The case also saw women's coach Jorge Vilda sacked after his own staff resigned. The coach, accused of trying to convince Hermoso to back down, was already under fire from team members over his unpopular training methods.

His deputy Montse Tome is now in charge, with Spain set to play Switzerland in the Nations League on Tuesday.

rc/rt (dpa, Reuters)