Kiss scandal claims Spanish Football Federation President’s career

Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales with Jennifer Hermoso after Spain beat England in last Sunday’s World Cup final.

Spanish football’s top official, Luis Rubiales, will step down from his role as the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) today after a contentious kiss with a national team player triggered a firestorm of criticism. 

Rubiales, 46, is reportedly preparing to tender his resignation during an extraordinary general assembly on Friday, following growing outrage and disciplinary actions initiated by FIFA. 

The incident that has prompted this swift downfall unfolded after Spain’s triumph over England with a 1-0 victory in the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney. Rubiales, in a moment of celebration, planted an unsolicited kiss on the lips of midfielder Jennifer Hermoso, an act that has been met with widespread condemnation. Additionally, Rubiales’ celebratory gesture of grabbing his genitals further fueled the controversy.

The backlash to Rubiales’ conduct came from various quarters, transcending the sports realm. High-profile figures, including Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and women’s league officials, called for his resignation. Even global entities like FIFA took action, opening disciplinary proceedings against him under the premise that his actions might have violated FIFA’s disciplinary code.

Hermoso herself, in collaboration with the Futpro union, voiced her concerns in a joint statement, demanding accountability for the incident. The player’s stance received support from human rights organisation Amnesty International, which characterised Rubiales’ behavior as a form of sexual violence that cannot be excused.

Rubiales’ initial response, where he brushed off the incident and dismissed his critics, only added fuel to the fire. Subsequent apologies failed to quell the outrage, leading to a widespread consensus that his position was untenable.

The upcoming extraordinary assembly is expected to be a pivotal moment for Spanish football, as the nation’s football leaders deliberate on Rubiales’ departure and consider potential successors. Rubiales, who took office in 2018 with promises of modernisation and transparency, saw his tenure marked by a series of controversies, further eroding his standing.

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