Ceferin says Rubiales had to go, but questions whether in law he committed a felony

September 19 – UEFA president Alexander Ceferin believes it would be harsh if Spanish justice prosecutes Luis Rubiales (pictured) over the ‘kissgate’ scandal but has re-iterated that what the former Spanish FA (RFEF) boss did was totally wrong.

Spanish state prosecutors are investigating Jenni Hermoso’s accusations against Rubiales of sexual assault for his infamous kiss on her lips following Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory – and for allegedly pressuring her to defend him.

But Ceferin says prosecuting Rubiales, who was a UEFA vice-president until he resigned all his positions, for kissing a player on the lips without her consent seems “completely illogical”.

A restraining order was issued Friday by a judge in Madrid that prohibits the Rubiales from being within 200 meters of Hermoso. He denied all accusations against him at the closed-door hearing.

Ceferin, who was a criminal defence lawyer before being elected UEFA president in 2016, said in an interview published Sunday in his native Slovenia that “what Rubiales did was inappropriate and not understandable.”

But he added: “But when I read it was deemed as a felony – as a lawyer, that seems completely illogical.”

Rubiales faced a torrent of criticism inside and outside Spain even after he was suspended by FIFA during an investigation into his conduct. If he is sent to trial, he could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty of sexual assault.

It has also emerged that Ceferin played a key role in Rubiales agreeing to throw in the towel despite vehemently defending his position.

According to Marca in Spain, several of Rubiales’ trusted advisors urged him to resign but that he only agreed to do after receiving a call from Ceferin who, Marca alleges, told Rubiales he would be sacked as UEFA vice-president if he didn’t volunteer to step down.

In yet another Rubiales development, though unrelated, a Spanish court has dismissed a lawsuit by the now disgraced former Spanish FA chief against Javier Clemente, who coached Spain national men’s team during the 1990s.

Clemente had called Rubiales a “dangerous and ambitious guy” seeking “to get rich” at the helm of the RFEF, qualifying his comments as free speech.

According to Reuters, a Madrid court has ruled that “we are dealing with a pure exercise of the right to freely express an opinion about a person who, moreover, is a public figure”.

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