FIFA takes action against Luis Rubiales as Jenni Hermoso hit with shock legal threat

The Spanish football federation chief has been suspended by FIFA for his kiss on Jenni Hermoso.

Pictured right, Spanish football president Luis Rubiales kissing Jenni Hermoso.
Spanish football president Luis Rubiales' kiss on Jenni Hermoso sparked uproar around the world. Pic: Getty/Twitter

Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales has been suspended by FIFA over his kiss on Jenni Hermoso after the Women's World Cup final. FIFA announced on Saturday that Rubiales has been removed from duties for 90 days "pending the disciplinary proceedings opened" against him Thursday.

Rubiales refused to resign from his role on Friday, sparking a fresh player revolt in which dozens of female footballers said they wouldn't play for the Spanish national team until he quits or is removed. But the scandal took a staggering twist on Saturday when the Spanish federation threatened legen action against Hermoso for refusing to accept Rubiales' version that the kiss was consensual.

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The suspension imposed by FIFA should prevent Rubiales working in football or having contact with other officials. FIFA disciplinary judge Jorge Palacio also intervened on Saturday to protect the "fundamental rights" of Hermoso and the integrity of the disciplinary case.

Palacio ordered Rubiales "to refrain, through himself or third parties, from contacting or attempting to contact the professional player of the Spanish national football team Ms Jennifer Hermoso or her close environment," FIFA said in a statement. "Likewise, the RFEF (Spanish soccer federation) and its officials or employees, directly or through third parties, are ordered to refrain from contacting the professional player of the Spanish national team Ms Jennifer Hermoso and her close environment," FIFA said.

Rubiales sparked global condemnation when he kissed Hermoso on the lips after the Women's World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday night. Hermoso initially laughed off the incident but has since slammed the football president's actions as 'unacceptable'.

Rubiales declared he would not be stepping down on Friday, complaining that "false feminists" were "trying to kill me". He described the kiss with Hermoso as a "little peck" that was "spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual". Speaking at an emergency meeting, Rubiales said: "Is a consensual peck going to take me out of here? I won't resign. I will fight until the end."

Luis Rubiales, pictured here kissing Jennifer Hermoso after the Women's World Cup final.
Luis Rubiales kissed Jennifer Hermoso after the Women's World Cup final. (Photo by Noemi Llamas/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

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Dozens of Spanish players, including Hermoso and all of the 23 who were part of the World Cup-winning squad, have since signed a joint statement demanding the removal of the federation leadership. The players said they won't represent the national team until he is gone.

“After the perplexity of the speech delivered by the president of the Spanish FA, Mr Rubiales, the players of the senior team, recent world champions, in support of Jenni Hermoso, want to express their firm condemnation of behaviours that have violated the dignity of women,” the statement said. “We want to end this statement by asking for real changes, both sporting and structural, that help the national team to continue growing, in order to continue this great success.

"It fills us with sadness that such an unacceptable event is managing to tarnish the greatest sporting success of Spanish women’s football. After everything that happened during the World Cup award ceremony, we want to state that every player that has signed this statement will not go back to the national team under the current leaders.”

The fresh mutiny comes after 15 players walked out on the national team in the wake of Spain's qualification for the World Cup. Players cited concerns over under-investment and coach Jorge Vilda's allegedly authoritarian approach to management. Only three players - Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey, and Ona Batlle - returned, while big-name stars including Mapi Leon, Patri Guijarro, and Claudia Pina have continued their boycott.

Football world in uproar over 'horrific' moment

Socceroos great and commentator Craig Foster was among the many calling for Rubiales' head in the wake of the incident, labelling it a "horrific" act from the Spanish boss. Foster tweeted: "Women in sport are daily subject to an extreme power differential, objectification, harassment, sexual abuse and an absence of agency and power. This is horrific. He should be stood down immediately by ⁦FIFA and the Spanish FA."

Hermoso had earlier called for "exemplary measures" to be taken against Rubiales following his unsolicited kiss. "My union FUTPRO, in co-ordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and have taken over as my interlocutors on this matter," Hermoso said in a statement released on Wednesday. "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." Rubiales apologised for the kiss in a video message released earlier in the week, but Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez described the apology as "insufficient".

with agencies

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