FIFA Bars Former Spanish Soccer Chief for 3 Years


Soccer’s global governing body on Monday barred Luis Rubiales, the former president of Spain’s soccer federation, from the sport for three years over his forcible kiss of a player after the Women’s World Cup final in August.

Mr. Rubiales kissed the player, Jennifer Hermoso, during the medals ceremony after the Women’s World Cup final on Aug. 20, a televised action that cast a pall over the Spanish team’s celebrations, drawing attention away from a proud national moment and toward a legacy of sexism in Spanish soccer. It also led to accusations in the days that followed that Mr. Rubiales and others at the federation had pressured the player to say the kiss was consensual.

Ms. Hermoso instead filed a criminal complaint of sexual assault, and Mr. Rubiales — who initially resisted calls to resign — was placed under a provisional 90-day suspension while FIFA, soccer’s governing body, investigated the episode. He quit as the head of Spain’s soccer federation less than a month after the final, under pressure from players who were refusing to take the field for the women’s national team.

On Monday, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee said that Mr. Rubiales would be banned from “all football-related activities at the national and international levels for three years” for breaching the organization’s disciplinary code by his actions after the final on Aug. 20. It did not provide further details on the findings but said that Mr. Rubiales could request them, at which point a so-called reasoned decision would be made public.

Mr. Rubiales could then appeal the case multiple times, first with a FIFA panel and then at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

In a statement on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter, Mr. Rubiales rejected FIFA’s decision and declared, “I’m going to fight.”

“I will go to the end so that justice is done and truth shines,” he added. “Despite much effort by politicians, the media and institutions, the disproportion and the injustice committed is becoming increasingly clearer.”

There was no immediate comment from Ms. Hermoso or Spain’s women’s team.

Mr. Rubiales has insisted that he did nothing wrong at the medals ceremony, describing the kiss as a consensual “peck,” and in an unrepentant address at a federation meeting he argued that he was a victim of “social assassination” and “false feminism.”

Ms. Hermoso and her teammates pushed back just as forcefully, describing years of sexism and mistreatment at the hands of the country’s soccer federation, and rejecting any suggestion that the kiss — which took place only feet from Queen Letizia of Spain, who was also participating in the medals ceremony — had been consensual.

After Spain’s federation released a statement to that effect in Ms. Hermoso’s name, she responded with one of her own. “I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me,” Ms. Hermoso wrote. “I do not tolerate my word being questioned, much less that it be made-up words that I haven’t said.”

Ms. Hermoso has said that she “felt vulnerable and the victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part” — and that she had initially faced pressure to downplay Mr. Rubiales’s actions.

In September, a court in Spain issued a restraining order that prohibits Mr. Rubiales from coming within 200 meters of Ms. Hermoso while the sexual assault investigation continues.

Rachel Chaundler contributed reporting.


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