Did Rubiales get off lightly? FIFA publishes reasoned decision for 3-year sanction

December 7 – FIFA considered a longer ban than the three-year sanction it imposed on disgraced former Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales for kissing Spanish World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso on the lips.

In its eagerly awaited written reasons for the ban, the disciplinary committee that imposed the penalty said it was with “strong hesitations” that it believed three years was the correct punishment.

“The Committee wished to stress that it was tempted to impose more severe sanctions in view of the seriousness and gravity of the incidents at stake as well as of the profound negative impact that the Respondent’s actions had on the image of FIFA, women’s football and women’s sport in general,” FIFA said.

Rubiales, a former UEFA vice-president, fell from power after kissing Hermoso without consent following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win over England in August. He was also seen grabbing his crotch in the VIP area after the final, standing next to Spain’s Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter.

When FIFA announced the sentence in October, Rubiales said he would appeal and accused FIFA of not giving him the chance to defend himself. He resigned in September after weeks of refusing to step down.

The disciplinary summary said that on several occasions, Rubiales violated the basic rules of decent conduct, used offensive gestures or behaved in a way that brought football into disrepute.

The report also included a submission by Debbie Hewitt, Chair of the English Football Association, who said that during the medal ceremony Rubiales cupped and stroked the face of one England player Laura Coombs and seemingly forcefully kissed another, Lucy Bronze, on the face.

In its written grounds, the FIFA disciplinary committee added: “It was absolutely and categorically expected of him to maintain and embody the highest levels of professionalism, beyond the usual standards, especially at a moment where his country was at the apex level of women’s football.

“In this regard, the committee could not stress enough that – regardless of the emotional state he was in during and after the match – [Rubiales’] behaviour was inexcusable and unacceptable, especially considering his high rank within the football ecosystem at the time.”

“All incidents assessed collectively, (together with Rubiales’ position in relation to them) appear to reveal a sense of complete impunity on the part of the respondent within the football environment.”

Rubiales responded in the report by accusing Hewitt of “hypocrisy” because, he said, she had also embraced players. He added that Hewitt’s portrayal of him as “some sort of creep is absolutely disgusting.”

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