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FIFA opens probe into unwanted kiss of Spanish soccer boss Luis Rubiales

Gianni Infantino says Luis Rubiales' kiss on the lips of Jennifer Hermoso should not have happened.

Gianni Infantino says Luis Rubiales' kiss on the lips of Jennifer Hermoso should not have happened. Photo: AP

Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish football association, is facing disciplinary proceedings from soccer’s international governing body FIFA over his conduct at the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney.

Rubiales has faced heavy criticism after he grabbed his crotch in celebration of Spain’s victory over England on Sunday, while metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter Sofia.

He then kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy celebration.

“The FIFA disciplinary committee informed Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Association, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him,” FIFA said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

“FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”

Hermoso had called for “exemplary measures” to be taken against Rubiales following his unsolicited kiss.

The incident sparked outrage within and outside Spain, with many people, including government ministers, demanding his resignation.

“My union FUTPRO, in co-ordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and have taken over as my interlocutors on this matter,” Hermoso said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable.”

Rubiales expressed his regret via video on Monday for the Hermoso kiss but Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez described the apology as “insufficient”.

The Spanish federation announced it had called an extraordinary meeting of its general assembly for Friday, and “internal proceedings” were open in relation to the trophy ceremony.

Fifteen Spain players were involved in a dispute with their national federation prior to the finals, with the methods of coach Jorge Vilda reportedly among their concerns.

But the Spanish FA refused to budge, with a statement saying those involved would only be able to return to the national team “if they accept their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.

Rubiales said on Monday the kiss happened “in a spontaneous way” and “without bad intention” but said it “seems like it has caused a commotion”.

Hermoso initially said on social media she “didn’t like” the kiss but a statement on her behalf was later released by the federation in which she was quoted as calling it “spontaneous”.

European football’s governing body UEFA, for whom Rubiales is an executive committee member and a vice-president, has so far offered no comment.

World players’ union FIFPRO described Rubiales’ behaviour as “deeply lamentable”.

“Uninitiated and uninvited physical gestures towards players are not appropriate or acceptable in any context,” the organisation said in a statement.

-PA, agencies

Topics: FIFA
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