FIFA on Saturday suspended Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales after the soccer governing body opened disciplinary proceedings into what a member of Spain’s Women’s National Team said was a non-consensual kiss he gave her after the team’s World Cup win last week.
Rubiales’ suspension, which takes effect immediately, bars him from all soccer-related activities at both the national and international level for 90 days, pending the results of the governing body’s disciplinary proceedings, FIFA announced in a statement on Saturday.
FIFA also ordered Rubiales, as well as the Spanish Football Federation” to “refrain, through himself or third parties,” from contacting Jenni Hermoso, the national team member he kissed, “or her close environment.”
Rubiales’ kiss, which Hermoso said was not consensual, has garnered international scrutiny, and prompted the Spanish women’s national soccer team to release a joint statement this week refusing to play any further matches until Rubiales is removed from his post, just hours after Rubiales refused to step down.
Rubiales, who apologized for the kiss and vowed to “take more care” while serving as president of the federation, had reportedly been planning to step down on Friday, ESPN and Spanish outlets reported on Thursday, after FIFA launched its disciplinary proceedings against him. Rubiales, in his video apology, also called the outrage over the kiss “idiotic” and did not address allegations the kiss was non-consensual. The Spanish Football Federation has also threatened “necessary legal action” against Hermoso for allegedly lying about the incident, though in a statement, Hermoso said she “won’t tolerate having [her] word doubted.”
Amid growing calls for Rubiales’ resignation, Liga F, Spain’s professional women’s soccer league, had also asked the country’s High Council of Sports on Wednesday to disqualify Rubiales from his position, while the FUTPRO players’ union that represents Hermoso said on Wednesday it’s working on “permanent measures” to protect soccer players from “unacceptable actions.”
Members of Spain’s men’s and women’s national soccer teams have also taken objection with the incident: Striker Borja Iglesias, who plays for Real Betis, said he would resign from the men’s national team after Rubiales refused to step down, Spanish outlet El Pais reported. Hermoso’s teammates, including Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmati Conca and Irene Paredes also condemned Rubiales’ kiss, with Putellas calling it “unacceptable” and Paredes posting: “You [Hermoso] are the victim. I’m with you, friend.” The U.S. Soccer Federation also came down on Rubiales, writing in a statement in support of FIFA’s disciplinary actions, and saying “no player should ever be subjected to what Jenni Hermoso endured.”