The former president of the Spanish Football Federation has been banned from all football-related activities for three years, following a FIFA investigation into his conduct during the victory celebrations at the Womens Wold Cup, won by Spain
Luis Rubiales already landed himself a 90-day suspension six days after the final, during which he grabbed forward Jenny Hermoso during the medal ceremony and planted a kiss on her mouth – an act she says was not consensual. He claims it was.
Rubiales was also seen grabbing his crotch in celebration and carrying Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder following Spain’s historic World Cup win. Initially he refused to resign from his post, insisting at an extraordinary general assembly called to address the issues that he was the victim of a witch-hunt and would not be stepping down.
However, on 10 September, four days after Spain manager Jorge Vilda, a staunch ally of Rubiales who was backed by the president at the general assembly and offered a new €500,000-a-year-contract, was let go, Rubiales finally resigned.
On Monday, Fifa announced that Rubiales had been found to have breached article 13 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code, which relates to “offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play” and was handed the three-year ban.
“This case relates to the events that occurred during the final of the Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023, for which Mr Rubiales had been provisionally suspended for an initial period of 90 days,” the statement said. “Mr Rubiales has been notified of the terms of the Fifa disciplinary committee’s decision today.
“In accordance with the relevant provisions of the Fifa disciplinary code, he has 10 days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on fifa.com. The decision remains subject to a possible appeal before the Fifa appeal committee.”
In a statement published on 25 August, Hermoso said the incident had left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of aggression”.
She characterised the kiss as an “impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part”. Rubiales vowed to defend his “innocence” in a lengthy statement published last month and added: “I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power so that it prevails.”
For more than a decade, Spanish players have raised concerns about the culture and conditions around the women’s national team but those concerns have been ignored and players have faced retaliation for speaking out.
In 2011 they complained about the federation’s indifference towards women’s football. After finishing bottom of their group at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the entire team called for the resignation of manager Ignacio Quereda and an improvement in training and facilities.
Quereda was sacked and Vilda hired, but the senior players that had been part of the rebellion were phased out of the squad. Following their exit at the quarter-final stage of the 2022 Euros, 15 players sent a letter to the federation saying they were withdrawing from being called up because their health was being impacted by the environment around the national team.
Rubiales and the federation backed the manager, Vilda, and the players were not called up to subsequent squads unless they had apologised. Three returned to the squad for the World Cup.
Spain won the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but the triumph was somwhat overshadowed in global news coverage by Rubiales’ actions. Hermoso was left out of the first squad after the tournament but made a triumphant return to the team last Friday, coming on as a substitute against Italy to score the winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Italy in the Nations League.