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FIFA bans Spain’s Luis Rubiales over unwanted kiss at World Cup

FIFA announced Monday that it has banned former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales for three years over violations of the organization’s disciplinary code.

Spain soccer star Jenni Hermoso accused Rubiales of grabbing and kissing her without her consent during on-field celebrations of the country’s first women’s World Cup title in August. FIFA previously provisionally suspended Rubiales for 90 days as it conducted its investigation, and he resigned in September. He also faces charges of sexual assault and coercion in Spain, and Hermoso has filed a restraining order against him.

FIFA said it was banning Rubiales under Article 13 of its disciplinary code, which warns against “violating the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.” When it issued the provisional suspension, FIFA cited the kiss, the fact that Rubiales grabbed his crotch in celebration of Spain’s win with Spain’s Queen Letizia and Princess Sofía standing nearby and the fact that he threw Spain player Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder while celebrating the win.

Rubiales can appeal his ban.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respecting and protecting the integrity of all people and ensuring that the basic rules of decent conduct are upheld,” soccer’s global governing body said in a statement.

Rubiales initially refused to step down after images of the kiss were aired, accusing Hermoso of lying, saying the kiss was “mutual” and “consensual,” and blaming the media and “fake feminism” for his predicament. But current and former national team members said they would not play for Spain if Rubiales remained in charge.

Hermoso said Rubiales’s actions left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of aggression” and described the kiss as an “impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part.”

The RFEF — the country’s soccer federation — initially supported Rubiales. In an August statement that was quickly deleted, the RFEF questioned Hermoso’s honesty and accused her and her supporters of trying to “distort reality” by asserting Rubiales kissed her without consent.

Spain also fired coach Jorge Vilda two weeks after winning the World Cup, a victory earned amid tumult. Vilda’s methods in the run-up to the tournament had long been questioned, and several players had confronted Vilda about his controlling ways. In September 2022, 15 Spanish players announced they would not play for the national team as long as Vilda was coach. The RFEF did not bow to their demands, and only three of the 15 ended up on Spain’s World Cup roster.


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