FIFA has taken the step of suspending Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish soccer federation, from his position as it investigates his conduct during the Women’s World Cup final. This investigation includes an incident where he kissed a player on the lips without her consent. FIFA released a statement on Saturday stating, "(We) decided today to provisionally suspend Mr. Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities at the national and international level."
Rubiales' suspension, imposed by FIFA, will be in effect for a duration of 90 days as they initiate disciplinary proceedings against the 46-year-old. Additionally, FIFA has mandated that both Rubiales and the Spanish Federation (RFEF) are prohibited from making any contact with Jenni Hermoso, the player who was involved in the incident, and individuals close to her.
FIFA's decision marks the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Rubiales, the RFEF, and Hermoso, along with her fellow Spain teammates. The players contend that the controversy has marred the celebration of their World Cup victory in Australia, which took place just last Sunday.
Hermoso's union, Futpro, announced that 81 players are participating in a strike aimed at bringing about change in response to the situation.
Players from the World Cup runners-up, England, expressed their support for Hermoso on social media, signing their statement as "The Lionesses." The statement condemned the actions as "unacceptable" and called out a "sexist and patriarchal organization." They affirmed their solidarity with Jenni Hermoso and all the Spanish team players.
Before the tournament, 15 Spain players had taken a similar stance against the federation and coach Jorge Vilda, although some ultimately relented, with three joining the World Cup team.
Several players, including the double Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas, showed their support for Hermoso on social media, some using the phrase "it's over," possibly alluding to the leadership of Rubiales in Spanish football.
Now, Putellas, Hermoso, Aitana Bonmati (the player of the tournament in the World Cup), and others have declared their refusal to play for Spain again until Rubiales, and potentially others, step down from their positions.
Hermoso stated in a release on Friday that Rubiales and the federation exerted "constant pressure" on her and her loved ones to appear alongside Rubiales in a video where he apologized for the kiss. However, she declined this request.
Rubiales, despite facing substantial criticism, refused to resign during an emergency RFEF meeting on Friday. Subsequently, the federation threatened legal action over what they termed Hermoso's "false statements" concerning the kiss.
Hermoso asserted that she never gave consent for the kiss following Spain's 1-0 victory against England in Sydney, a claim Rubiales characterized as "mutual, euphoric, and consensual."
In response, the RFEF declared its intention to "address each of the falsehoods that have been spread, whether on behalf of the player, if applicable, or by the player herself." The federation vowed to take "as many legal actions as necessary to protect the honor of the President of the RFEF."
Hermoso, 33, along with 80 other Spain players, including the entire World Cup-winning squad, announced their strike and refusal to represent the national team until there is a change in "leadership." This was their response to Rubiales' refusal to step down despite intense criticism, with Rubiales claiming that he is the target of a "social assassination."
Hermoso vehemently contested Rubiales' claims of consensuality, asserting that she felt "vulnerable and the victim of an assault." She made this clarification through a statement issued by her Futpro union.