Luis Rubiales: Spain FA president suspended over ‘non-consensual’ Jenni Hermoso World Cup final kiss

Luis Rubiales, the president of Spain's football federation, has been suspended by FIFA after kissing World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso without her consent at the final.

Luis Rubiales, the president of Spain’s football federation, has been suspended by FIFA after kissing World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso without her consent at the final.

Rubiales has been suspended from “all football-related activities at national and international level” for an initial period of 90 days by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, BBC News reports.

Spain’s historic win has been overshadowed in recent days by the controversy, with Rubiales refusing to resign and accusing Hermoso of lying after he controversially kissed her on the lips following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England’s Lionesses in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final. 

Rubiales was expected to stand down on Friday (25 August) but instead went on the attack in a rambling speech at the organisation’s Extraordinary General Assembly, claiming he is the victim of a witch hunt by “false feminists” and the kiss was the “same I could give one of my daughters”. 

England’s Lionesses have publicly stood by Hermoso and pledged their support for her amid the controversy.

Players including Mary Earps, Lauren Hemp, Beth Mead and Lauren James have shared a statement from the team on their social media channels. It reads: “Unacceptable actions allowed to happen by a sexist and patriarchal organisation. Abuse is abuse and we have all seen the truth.

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“The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people shouldn’t need convincing to take action against any form of harassment.

“We all stand with you, @jennihermoso and all players of the Spanish team.”

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The statement released by England’s Lionesses in support of Jenni Hermoso and the Spanish team. (Lionesses)

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), however, has threatened legal action on behalf of Rubiales.

In a statement released on their website, the RFEF confirmed that it would be pursuing legal action against Hermoso, who is being represented by football players union Futpro. 

The footballing body shared various images of the moment Rubiales kissed Hermoso during the World Cup medal ceremony, stating the “evidence is conclusive” and “Mr President has not lied”.

The statement reads: “The RFEF and Mr President will demonstrate each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself. The RFEF and the President, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the Futpro union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions.”

President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales (R) kisses Jennifer Hermoso of Spain (L) during the medal ceremony of FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Final match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia on 20 August, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Noemi Llamas/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

The RFEF continued by saying the body “regrets” that the “extraordinary sporting success” of Spain’s women cannot be celebrated due to “completely non-sports reasons”.

Following Rubiales failing to step down, the winning 23-strong Spanish squad – alongside other top players – are now refusing to play for the national team unless he resigns. La Roja have stated that they will not participate in any further matches until “federation leadership is removed”.

The moment has tarnished the World Cup victory for Spain and has been described as the #MeToo moment of women’s football. 

In the days following the kiss, Hermoso spoke out on social media, rejecting any suggestion that she consented to what she described as “an aggression”. 

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“I feel the need to report this incident because I believe no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours,” she wrote. 

“I felt vulnerable and a victim of impulsive-driven, sexist, out-of-place act, without any consent on my part. Quite simply, I was not respected.”

Rubiales has already had to apologise for his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final, after he grabbed his crotch near Spain’s 16-year-old princess. The football federation president claimed the gesture was directed at the team’s coach, Jorge Vilda, as a tribute, but admitted that “it wasn’t very edifying”.

Hermoso suggested that the kiss was part of a culture of misogyny, calling it just one occurrence in a “long list of situations that we players have been denouncing in recent years”.

“This incident is just the straw that broke the camel’s back and one that everyone has been able to see,” she said. “But attitudes like this have been part of the national team’s daily life for years.”

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