Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has been handed a three-year ban from all soccer-related activities by world governing body FIFA in the wake of his behavior at the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC)in Australia in August.
In a statement, FIFA said it had found Rubiales had breached Article 13 of the governing body’s disciplinary code having forcibly kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the winners' medals collection ceremony after Spain beat England 1-0 to claim their first-ever WWC.
It added Rubiales has the right to appeal the decision before the FIFA Appeal Committee.
Following the incident, Hermoso publicly condemned the act and said it was not consensual. The player then filed an official legal complaint against Rubiales, while a Spanish prosecutor made an official complaint in the Spanish high court.
He was subsequently banned from going within 200 meters of Hermoso, and FIFA suspended him from his role.
After initially brushing off widespread criticism, Rubiales apologized for the incident before resigning last month (September 11).
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Rubiales also had to apologize for grabbing his crotch while celebrating in the VIP area of Stadium Australia post-final, while Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter stood nearby.
Speaking to the UK's Talk TV at the time, he said of his resignation: “I cannot continue my work. After the quick suspension carried out by FIFA, plus the rest of the open proceedings against me, it is evident that I will not be able to return to my position.
“Insisting on waiting and holding on is not going to contribute to anything positive, neither to the federation nor to Spanish soccer.”
Rubiales was initially elected to lead the RFEF in May 2018 and then re-elected unopposed in August 2020.
The Hermoso legal complaint is one of sexual assault, while the Spanish prosecutor, Marta Durantez Gil, has also filed a complaint alleging coercion. Hermoso told the prosecutor that her relatives were pressured by Rubiales, following the incident, to indicate that the player had “justified and approved what happened.”
Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual assault can carry a punishment of between four and nine years in prison.
The prosecutors had opened an initial investigation on August 28, while earlier this month the Spanish national sports tribunal also opened a misconduct case against Rubiales. They ruled the unasked-for kiss represented a “serious offense.”