FIFA suspend Rubiales as Spanish open criminal investigations and players refuse to play

By Andrew Warshaw

August 28 – One week after the most infamous kiss in football history during the Women’s World Cup awards ceremony, the reputation of Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales reputation is in tatters after FIFA temporarily banned him from the game.

Rubiales, who also grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture, insists he is the victim of “false feminism” and “social assassination” but the bitter civil war between players and federation has boiled over to the point where Spain no longer have a team – 81 female players having refused to play for the national team while Rubiales is in post.

“(We) decided today to provisionally suspend Mr. Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities at national and international level,” FIFA said, banning him and the RFEF from contacting Hermoso or those close to her.

To say that that ‘kissgate’ and the decision to suspend Rubiales for 90 days while FIFA undertake disciplinary proceedings has tarnished Spain’s euphoric World Cup success is something of an under-statement. The greatest achievement of Spanish football under his watch has led to his downfall – unless he can somehow win his fight against both FIFA and Spain’s government.

Even the male coach of the women’s team, Jorge Vilda, has now changed his tune and denounced Rubiales having initially backed his close friend’s decision not to resign despite a global outcry.

“I deeply regret that Spanish women’s football’s triumph has been harmed by the improper behaviour of our leader Luis Rubiales, which he himself has acknowledged,” Vilda said.

Vilda’s coaching staff had all resigned leaving Vilda alone in supporting Rubiales, despite his condemnation of his behaviour. Rubiales backed Vilda over complaints over his coaching regime from 15 national squad members who refused to be part of selection for the 2023 World Cup.

The RFEF responded to FIFA’s suspension, by continuing to back their man, saying Rubiales will defend himself “so the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven”. In the meantime vice-president Pedro Rocha will take over as interim president.

With developments taking place almost daily, on Saturday the RFEF upped the ante by threatening legal action over Hermoso’s alleged “lies” about the kiss. She has insisted that “at no time” did she consent despite Rubiales describing his actions as “mutual, euphoric and consensual”.

Where all this leaves Rubiales’ UEFA vice-presidency is one of many intriguing questions. European football’s governing body has not made any comment, though Rubiales’ suspension will prevent him carrying out any UEFA duties.

Meanwhile Spain’s government is pursuing Rubiales’ permanent removal for an alleged abuse of power and allegedly committing acts that tarnished the dignity and decorum of a sporting event.

Spanish prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into whether the incident amounts to a crime of sexual assault. If found guilty, Rubiales could be ruled unfit to hold office.

“Rubiales cannot run Spanish soccer again,” Spanish minister María Jesús Montero said Sunday. We had enough of him when he marred the great triumph of women’s soccer with his intolerable attitude.”

Weekend fixtures worldwide saw women’s and men’s teams show their support for Hermoso.

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