Case Launched by FIFA Against Spanish Soccer Official for Kissing Player at Women’s World Cup Final

by Michael Nguyen
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FIFA disciplinary case

On Thursday, FIFA initiated disciplinary proceedings against the president of the Spanish soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, who kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the celebrations that followed Spain’s triumph at the Women’s World Cup final.

The incident, which occurred during the medal and trophy ceremony in Sydney, Australia, has prompted the governing body’s disciplinary committee to investigate whether Rubiales breached FIFA’s code of conduct, specifically in relation to maintaining “decent conduct” and not acting in a manner that may tarnish the image of football or FIFA itself.

The Spanish soccer federation has refrained from commenting on Spanish media reports suggesting that Rubiales might step down from his position on Friday after serving five years as the leader of the organization.

Following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England, Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips, a gesture that has been met with widespread disapproval. Notably, Hermoso herself has expressed her displeasure with the act.

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Shortly before the incident, Rubiales also made an inappropriate victory gesture in the presence of Spain’s Queen Letizia and Princess Sofía.

FIFA responded to the controversy on Thursday, asserting its unwavering commitment to respecting individual integrity and sternly condemning any contrary behavior, without pinpointing the exact actions by Rubiales under investigation.

Spain’s secretary of state for sports, Víctor Francos, remarked on Wednesday that Rubiales’s behavior was indefensible.

FIFA has not provided a specific timeline for its ruling, but the disciplinary judges can impose a range of sanctions on individuals, from warnings and fines to suspensions from soccer activities.

Jorge Palacio, a Colombian lawyer and former labor court judge, chairs the FIFA disciplinary panel, which will likely be judged by three of the 16 members. Three women are among the panel members, representing England, Mexico, and Thailand.

Rubiales, who earns 250,000 euros ($270,000) annually plus expenses as a vice president of UEFA, was UEFA’s top delegate at women’s soccer’s most significant game.

UEFA’s president has not yet commented on Rubiales’s behavior, who is also scheduled to host UEFA’s next annual congress in Madrid in February.

An emergency meeting is scheduled on Friday by the Spanish soccer federation, which Rubiales has led for five years, to possibly address the controversy. Spanish media speculates that Rubiales may resign during this meeting.

Opinions have been voiced on this sensitive issue, including Real Madrid’s coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who expressed his personal disapproval of Rubiales’s conduct.

Currently, Rubiales is heading the UEFA-backed bid for hosting the men’s World Cup in 2030, which also involves Portugal, Morocco, and possibly Ukraine. The behavior in question has raised concerns about its potential impact on Spain’s image as it competes for the bid.

Despite the delay in the 2030 bid contest by FIFA, the decision is targeted for late next year. The Spain-led bid is currently favored over a South American proposal involving Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Saudi Arabia is also speculated as a potential bidder, although the 2034 edition appears to be a more achievable target for the kingdom.

For more coverage on the Women’s World Cup, visit AP Women’s World Cup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about FIFA disciplinary case

Who is the subject of the disciplinary case opened by FIFA?

Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish soccer federation, is the subject of the disciplinary case opened by FIFA.

What was the incident that led to the disciplinary case?

Luis Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the celebration of Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup final, leading to the disciplinary case.

When and where did the incident take place?

The incident occurred during the trophy and medal ceremony after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England in the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney, Australia.

What code might have been violated by Rubiales according to FIFA?

FIFA’s disciplinary committee is investigating whether Rubiales violated the code related to “the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”

What are the potential sanctions that could be imposed on Rubiales?

The sanctions that could be imposed on Rubiales range from warnings and fines to suspensions from participating in soccer activities.

Is there any reaction from the player involved or other authorities?

Jenni Hermoso has said she did not like the kiss, and various authorities, including Spain’s secretary of state for sports, have criticized Rubiales’ behavior. Spain’s acting prime minister and other officials, such as Real Madrid’s coach, have also commented on the issue.

Has UEFA commented on the incident involving its vice president, Rubiales?

As of the information provided, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin has not commented on the conduct of Rubiales, who is a vice president of UEFA.

What might be the impact on Spain’s bid for hosting the World Cup in 2030?

The secretary of state for sports, Víctor Francos, has stated that Rubiales’ actions have potentially damaged Spain’s image as it tries to win support for hosting the World Cup in 2030. However, the exact impact is not specified.

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