Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which governs international soccer and organizes the World Cup, suspended Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales on Saturday after he kissed forward Jennifer Hermoso on the lips as the Spanish national women’s team celebrated its historic first World Cup win.
“The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, Jorge Ivan Palacio (Colombia), in use of the powers granted by article 51 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC), has decided today to provisionally suspend Mr. Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities at national and international level,” a statement from FIFA reads. “This suspension, which will be effective as of today, is for an initial period of 90 days, pending the disciplinary proceedings opened against Mr. Luis Rubiales on Thursday, August 24.”
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“Likewise, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and in order to preserve, among other factors, the fundamental rights of the national soccer team player Ms. Jennifer Hermoso and the good order of the disciplinary proceedings before this disciplinary body, has issued two additional directives (article 7 FDC) by which he orders Mr. Luis Rubiales to refrain, through himself or third parties, from contacting or attempting to contact the professional player of the Spanish national football team Ms. Jennifer Hermoso or her close environment,” the statement continues, adding that the FIFA Disciplinary Committee will not provide further information until it has reached a final decision in the proceedings.
On Saturday, Rubiales said he would fight the accusations. “Luis Rubiales has stated that he will legally defend himself in the competent bodies, he fully trusts FIFA and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defence so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven,” a statement from the Spanish football federation said, per the BBC.
After Spain won the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, Aug. 20, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso, kissed her cheeks, and then kissed her on the lips at the medals ceremony. In an Instagram Live video later, Hermoso and her teammates could be heard negatively discussing the kiss. Hermoso is also heard saying, “Hey, but I didn’t like that.”
In the days following the incident, the controversial kiss was widely criticized with calls for Rubiales to resign. He initially gave a half-baked apology saying “I have to apologize” and that “Probably I made a mistake.” While reports indicated he might resign, by Friday he appeared to be defending his actions, saying that he would not resign “I will fight this to the end” per The New York Times. Rubiales went on to claim the kiss was “free, mutual, and consensual” and that Hermoso “was the one who lifted me up.”
In response, Spain’s Player Association released a letter signed by all 23 members of the World Cup-winning squad stating that they “will not go back to the national team under the current leaders.” It included a statement from Hermoso, who refuted Rubiales’ claims.
“I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me, and, of course, in no case did I lift the president,” said Hermoso. “I do not tolerate my word being questioned and much less that they invent words I never said.”
The world champions’ next game is scheduled to take place on Sept. 22 against Sweden.
As BBC reports, at least 81 players have said they won’t play in the national team — which includes the entire squad who won the Women’s World Cup — while Rubiales remains the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
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