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The president of the Spanish FA has been suspended by FIFA’s disciplinary committee as part of an investigation into his behaviour, after he forcibly kissed a female player during last weekend’s World Cup final awards ceremony.
Global soccer’s governing body said on Saturday it had decided to suspend Luis Rubiales from “all football-related activities” at national and international level for 90 days pending disciplinary proceedings. In addition to his role at the Spanish Football Federation, Rubiales is vice-president of UEFA, the governing body of European football.
FIFA has also invoked additional powers to prevent Rubiales and the Spanish FA from contacting the players he kissed “directly or indirectly”.
The incident sparked outrage in national and international football and cast a shadow over Spain’s first Women’s World Cup trophy. The Spanish government has lodged a complaint with the Court of Sport seeking to suspend Rubiales as president of the Spanish Football Federation.
Rubiales is expected to resign on Friday after he grabbed Jeanne Hermoso and kissed her on the lips during last week’s World Cup final in Sydney, sparking a public outcry. He claimed the kiss was consensual, but the player later said it was “absolutely wrong”.
“I feel vulnerable and the victim of an impulsively driven, sexist, inappropriate behavior without any consent from me,” Hermoso said in a statement.
But Rubiales did not resign at a special RFEF meeting on Friday, delivering a defiant speech calling himself a victim of “false feminism” and vowing to stay on. His speech won applause from many in the room.
Overnight, the Spanish Football Federation said it would take legal action against Futpro, the players’ union representing Hermoso, accusing it of spreading “lies”.
Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s team released a statement signed by dozens of players saying they would not play for their country again until Rubiales leaves. Many big-name female players, as well as a handful of male players, have made public statements of support for Hermoso on social media.
World Cup player Aitana Bommati said: “Some restrictions are insurmountable and we cannot tolerate this situation. We are with your teammates.”
The England women’s team, who lost to Spain in the final, issued a statement saying: “Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth. The behavior of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people should not need to be persuaded to act.”
Spain’s Culture and Sports Minister Miquel Iceta said “this is the end” of Rubiales.
“Things can’t go on like this,” he told El Pais. “In the face of unacceptable facts, neither the chairman nor the Football Association General Assembly will make any reaction. Therefore, it is all over.”