FIFA to investigate Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales over World Cup final kiss

Luis Rubiales kisses Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup trophy presentation | Photo Credit: Noe Llamas/SPP/Shutterstock via the Guardian

FOOTBALL FIFA to investigate Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales over World Cup final kiss

Shafic Kiyaga 14:45 - 24.08.2023

The investigation comes in the wake of Rubiales facing intense criticism for kissing Spain player Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the trophy celebration.

FIFA has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Luis Rubiales, the President of the Spanish Football Association (RFEF), over his controversial actions during the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney.

“The FIFA disciplinary committee informed Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish FA, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him,” a statement from world football’s governing body said.

“Based on the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

“The events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”

“The FIFA disciplinary committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter.”

Spanish footballer Jennifer Hermoso celebrates with her World Cup winners medal following the 2023 Women's World Cup final in Sydney, Australia | Photo Credit: Imago Images

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

The investigation comes in the wake of Rubiales facing intense criticism for kissing Spain player Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the trophy celebration.

He was also criticized for making an inappropriate gesture—grabbing his crotch—while in close proximity to Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter, Sofia.

“The sections of the disciplinary code referenced in its statement cover ‘offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play’.”

“The code cites examples of behaviour which could lead to disciplinary measures being taken, including ‘insulting a natural or legal person in any way.”

“Especially by using offensive gestures, signs or language’ and ‘behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute’,” FIFA elaborated.

The condemnation of Rubiales's actions has reached the highest levels of Spanish politics.

Rubiales issued an apology via video on Monday for kissing Hermoso, but the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez described the apology as ‘insufficient’.

Jenniefer Hermoso (R) celebrates with a Spanish national team coach following their victory at the 2023 Women's World Cup finals | Photo Credit: Imago Images

The player at the center of the controversy, Jennifer Hermoso, initially expressed her discomfort with the kiss on social media, saying she "didn't like" the kiss.

However, she later released a statement through the RFEF describing the kiss as "spontaneous."

Hermoso further confirmed that her union FUTPRO, in coordination with her agency TMJ, are taking care of defending her interests and being the interlocutors on the matter.

The Spanish Football Association is also taking internal measures. It announced on Tuesday night, that it had called an extraordinary meeting of its general assembly for Friday.

Luis Rubiales' apology over the his behavior at the 2023 Women World Cup trophy presentation ceremony was deemed inadequate by Spain's prime Minister | Photo Credit: Courtesy

The assembly is expected to hold and open internal proceedings in relation to integrity issues arising from the trophy ceremony.

The world players' union Fifpro had earlier urged FIFA to investigate Rubiales, and following the announcement of disciplinary proceedings, Futpro in Spain issued its own statement condemning Rubiales’ actions.

“From our association we ask the Spanish FA to implement the necessary protocols and ensure the rights of our players and adopt exemplary measures,” Futpro said.

“It is essential that our team, the current world champions, are always represented by figures who project values of equality and respect in all areas.”

Spain's women's football league, Liga F, has also joined the chorus of disapproval.

“For a boss to grab his employee by the head and kiss her on the mouth simply cannot be tolerated,” it said.

“The subsequent justifications are, as the prime minister described it, 'inadequate'," Liga F added.