FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish FA President, Luis Rubiales, who kissed Jenni Hermoso after the country’s Women’s World Cup victory in Sydney on Sunday.
In a statement, FIFA reiterated “its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”
Recall that Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), kissed the forward on the lips during the medal ceremony following the team’s 1-0 win against England in Sydney.
Rubiales has faced heavy criticism after he grabbed Jenni Hermoso in celebration of Spain’s victory over England while standing metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter Sofia in the stadium VIP area.
Rubiales then kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy celebration.
FIFA said in a statement issued on Thursday afternoon: “The FIFA disciplinary committee informed Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Association, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him based on the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on August 20, 2023.”
FIFA’s statement added: “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.
“FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”
The sections of the disciplinary code referenced in the FIFA statement cover “offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play”.
The code cites examples of behaviour that 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”.
Hermoso initially said on social media she “didn’t like” the kiss but a statement on her behalf was later released by the RFEF in which she described it as “spontaneous”.
Rubiales, who initially called his critics “idiots”, issued an apology via video on Monday for the Hermoso kiss, but is still facing calls to resign, with Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez describing the apology as “insufficient”.
Hermoso said in a joint statement on Wednesday released by her union and her agency: “My union FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter.
“We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable.”
FIFPRO later came out in support of Hermoso and requested FIFA open an investigation into Rubiales.
“We reiterate that it was deeply lamentable that such a special moment for the players of the Spain national team taking place before a global television audience should be stained by the inappropriate conduct of an individual in a role carrying so much responsibility,” the union’s statement read.
“Uninitiated and uninvited physical approaches towards players are not appropriate or acceptable in any context, and especially when they are put in a position of vulnerability by a person who holds a position of power over them in their workplace, ” the union’s statement added.
FUTPRO will meet next Monday with Spain’s second deputy leader, Yolanda Diaz, to ensure the actions of Rubiales are “duly sanctioned”.
The (RFEF) announced on Tuesday night it had called an extraordinary meeting of its general assembly for Friday, and that “internal proceedings” were open in relation to integrity issues arising from the trophy ceremony.
Spain’s women’s Football League, Liga F, called for Rubiales to be dismissed and said it had lodged a complaint with the president of the National Sports Council (CSD) over his “very serious actions and behaviour”.
“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 noted.
Reacting to the incident, in Spain, acting Minister for Sports and Culture, Miquel Iceta, told public broadcaster RNE, “It is unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her.”
A stronger reaction came from Spanish government Equality Minister Irene Montero.
“It is a form of sexual violence that women suffer on a daily basis, and which has been invisible so far, and which we should not normalise,” Ms. Montero said on Sunday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Speaking to Sky Sports News about the incident, Spanish football expert Semra Hunter said: “The reaction has been polarised in Spain. Some people felt it was no big deal, that they were both caught up in the moment and it was a snap reaction – they’re defending him in a way.
“But there are other people who’ve said what is he doing, what is he thinking, and it’s grossly inappropriate.
“She tried to downplay it to the media by saying they had a great relationship, he’s supported the girls throughout the tournament, he’s really behaved very well and there’s nothing more to it.
“But on social media she said she didn’t really like it. I think we’re not really clear as to how she feels about it.
“If she really does feel uncomfortable about it then we have to look at the wider problem here and why it is that she can’t speak up and be honest about it.
“The reactions here have been completely opposite, in terms of those that are saying it’s not too much of a big deal and others that are absolutely horrified at what they saw and are asking him to step down as the Spanish FA president.”