Spain’s soccer federation will convene an urgent meeting to address the controversy surrounding its president, Luis Rubiales. Rubiales is facing a FIFA suspension and widespread criticism after allegations emerged that he kissed player Jenni Hermoso without her consent following Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup. Despite calls for his resignation from players, coaches, and the government, Rubiales has refused to step down, maintaining that the kiss was consensual. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has called for the meeting to evaluate the situation following Rubiales’ suspension by FIFA. The governing body has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales and suspended him for three months pending an investigation. Rubiales has vowed to use the FIFA probe to prove his innocence.
Rubiales, who played primarily in Spain’s second division during his 12-year career, was elected to lead the RFEF in 2018 with promises of modernization, increased transparency, and improved financial performance. While the Spanish government lacks the authority to dismiss Rubiales, it has strongly condemned his actions and is seeking to have him suspended through a legal procedure before a sports tribunal. The controversy surrounding Rubiales comes at a time when gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain, with widespread protests against sexual abuse and violence. Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz is scheduled to meet with representatives of the women’s players’ union and the Association of Spanish Footballers to ensure a safe and equitable environment within the sport.
Maria Jesus Montero, acting budget minister, has stated that Rubiales should not be allowed to continue leading Spanish soccer due to his dishonesty and failure to understand the importance of gender equality. Jenni Hermoso, the player at the center of the controversy, has received overwhelming support from fellow players and the wider society. She was applauded by the crowd during the Women’s Cup final and players at the match displayed a banner in her support. Players from other teams, including Orlando Pride and San Diego Wave, wore wristbands in solidarity with Hermoso during their matches. The entire Spanish cup-winning squad, along with numerous other players, have declared that they will not participate in international matches as long as Rubiales remains in charge. The coaching staff of the women’s team has also offered their resignations in support of Hermoso. Feminist groups have organized demonstrations in Madrid, and hundreds of people have already protested against Rubiales in Salamanca.
Andres Iniesta, a former member of Spain’s men’s team, has joined the chorus of condemnation, stating that Rubiales’ behavior is damaging the country’s image and football reputation. Victor Francos, head of the National Sports Council, has referred to the incident as a MeToo moment for Spain but believes it will not impact the country’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup. The situation remains tense as the Spanish soccer federation grapples with the fallout from Rubiales’ actions.
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