Luis Rubiales facing FIFA investigation, reportedly planning to step down

Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales is reportedly set to bow to pressure and resign from his position, as FIFA takes action over his controversial World Cup kiss.

The news comes after he celebrated Spain’s historic win over England in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup by clutching his crotch as he stood on the field next to the Spanish queen and her 16-year-old daughter, then grabbed player Jenni Hermoso for an unsolicited kiss.

On Friday in a joint statement with women’s football union FUTPRO, Hermoso called for the RFEF to protect the rights of players.

“From FUTPRO we express our firm and resounding condemnation of conduct that violates the dignity of women,” the statement read.

“From our association, we ask the Royal Spanish Football Federation to implement the necessary protocols, ensure the rights of our players and adopt exemplary measures.

‘The fight for equality’

“It is essential that our national team, current world champion, is always represented by figures that project values of equality and respect in all areas. It is necessary to continue to advance in the fight for equality, a fight that our female players have led with determination, bringing us to the position we are in today.”

On Thursday, FIFA announced it is opening disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales for potentially violating the organisation’s rules around offensive behaviour.

Among the possible violations of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the Spanish football executive’s actions may have broken the basic rules of decent conduct, along with rules against “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute”.

Further accusations made

Tamara Ramo, who used to work alongside Mr Rubiales at the Spanish Player’s Association, has also told Spanish television channel Telecinco he subjected her to several misogynist and sexist remarks when they worked together.

In response, the RFEF denounced Ramos’ “false accusations” made to take advantage of the current backlash against Rubiales, and said they would take “immediate legal measures”.

“It is pertinent to report that Ms Ramos has also maintained personal contact with president Luis Rubiales throughout this time and has even sent him family images, congratulated him on his birthday, and even recently requested a job in the federation,” the federation said.

The drama around Spanish women’s football is also widening in scope, with footage emerging this week of head coach Jorge Vilda appearing to touch a female staff member’s breast during Sunday’s match against England.

Vilda later appeared to be snubbed by his team’s players while celebrating on the field after their win, following months of tension over his management methods, which had sparked a boycott of Spain’s national team by star players last year.

The kiss that made waves

Rubiales’ actions on Sunday, particularly the kiss, immediately sparked global backlash.

He initially attempted to blow off the criticism, despite Hermoso telling viewers of her social media livestream following the win that she “didn’t like [the kiss]”.

“The kiss with Jenni? There are idiots everywhere,” Rubiales said at the time, as reported by Radio Marca.

“When two people have a moment of affection that means nothing more, you can’t listen to idiocy. We are the champions, that’s it.”

The subsequent statement attributed to Hermosa and released to news agencies by the RFEF, which Relevo reports was produced without the player’s input, also attempted to smooth things over.

“It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,” the statement read.

“The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.”

When the attempts at placation failed to stem the growing tide of criticism, Rubiales apologised on Monday – but still claimed the kiss was “natural” for both parties.

“There’s an event which I have to regret and it is everything that has happened between a player and I, with a magnificent connection between both people, just as with others,” Rubiales said.

“And where I surely made a mistake, I need to recognise it, because in a moment of maximum effusiveness, with no bad intention, with no bad faith, what happened, happened…in a very spontaneous way. I repeat: with no bad faith from either of the two parties.

As discussion over the incident continued to overshadow her team’s World Cup win, Hermoso also told Spain’s COPE radio station earlier this week: “I wish they created [controversy] involving someone else, I’m a world champion and that’s what matters.”

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