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FIFA bans Spain’s Luis Rubiales

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) – Former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales has been banned for three years over violations of FIFA’s disciplinary code, the organisation announced Monday.

Spain soccer star Jenni Hermoso had accused Rubiales of grabbing and kissing her without her consent during on-field celebrations of the country’s first Women’s World Cup title in August. FIFA already had provisionally suspended Rubiales for 90 days as it conducted its investigation, and he resigned as Spanish soccer federation president in September. He also faces charges of sexual assault and coercion in Spain, and Hermoso has filed a restraining order against him.

FIFA said it was banning Rubiales under Article 13 of its disciplinary code, which warns against “violating the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.” In issuing the provisional suspension earlier this year, FIFA cited the kiss, the fact that Rubiales grabbed his crotch in celebration of Spain’s win with Spain’s Queen Letizia and Princess Sofía standing nearby, and the fact that he threw Spain player Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder while celebrating the win.

Rubiales can appeal his banishment.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respecting and protecting the integrity of all people and ensuring that the basic rules of decent conduct are upheld,” soccer’s governing body said in a statement.

Rubiales initially refused to step down as president of the Spanish soccer federation after images of the kiss were aired, accusing Hermoso of lying, saying the kiss was “mutual” and “consensual,” and blaming the media and “fake feminism” for his predicament. But Spain’s World Cup current and former national team members said they would not play for the country if Rubiales remained in power.

Hermoso said Rubiales’s actions left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of aggression” and described the kiss as an “impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part.”

RFEF – the country’s soccer federation – initially supported Rubiales. In an August statement that was released but quickly deleted, RFEF questioned Hermoso’s honesty and accused her and her supporters of trying to “distort reality” by asserting Rubiales kissed her without consent.

Spain also fired controversial coach Jorge Vilda two weeks after winning the World Cup, a victory earned amid tumult. Vilda’s methods in the run-up to the tournament had long been questioned, and several Spain players had confronted Vilda about his controlling ways. In September 2022, 15 Spanish players announced they would not play for the national team so long as Vilda was coach. RFEF did not bow to their demands, and only three of the 15 would end up on Spain’s World Cup roster.

File photo of former president of Spain’s soccer federation Luis Rubiales. PHOTO: AP