Rubiales could face further suspension after kiss as sports court meet

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

BARCELONA: Suspended Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales could face further domestic sanctions as the country´s top sports court meets Monday to examine complaints against him for forcibly kissing Women´s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso.

World football governing body FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales for 90 days on Saturday but the 46-year-old could face a longer suspension from the Spanish government, if the sports court opens proceedings against Rubiales for "very serious" offences or an "abuse of authority".

Spain´s top sports court (TAD) began meeting online from 1100 GMT. The Spanish government has said it will take action against Rubiales if the sports court gives them the go-ahead.

"If the court upholds the complaint and begins to process that case, we can request the provisional suspension of the president of the RFEF (the football federation) until TAD finishes analysing it and takes their decision," Sports Minister Miquel Iceta said on Friday.

Spain midfielder Hermoso says Rubiales´ kiss before Spain lifted the World Cup trophy in Sydney was not consensual, despite his claims to the contrary, and 81 players went on strike from the women´s side in protest after the federation chief refused to resign.

In a powerful statement on Friday, Hermoso said: "I felt vulnerable and a victim of an assault, an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part."

As many as 11 members of women´s football staff in the Spanish football federation have also resigned from their posts, although controversial Spain women´s coach Jorge Vilda did not, although he has criticised Rubiales´ conduct.

The federation, under interim president Pedro Rocha, have called a new emergency meeting for Monday afternoon between presidents of the regional federations, a source close to the matter told AFP.

The president of the CSD, Victor Francos, will speak about the Rubiales situation and any potential measures the government can take later Monday.

"The only sanctions provided for by the Sports Law are to impose a fine or ineligibility for a period of between two and fifteen years," sports lawyer Toni Roca said in an interview on Spanish public television Sunday.

Criticism of Rubiales mounted last week after he kissed Hermoso following Spain´s World Cup final victory over England on August 20.

Andres Iniesta, who scored the only goal in the 2010 men´s World Cup final to give Spain the trophy for the first time, said Rubiales´ conduct had "tarnished" the women´s achievement.

"I believe that we cannot tolerate actions like the ones we have seen, which have tarnished such a great milestone as winning a World Cup," Iniesta said on social media.

"(Instead of celebrating) we have had to put up with a president who has clung on to his position, who has not admitted that his behaviour has been unacceptable and is damaging the image of our country and our football around the world.

"It´s a shame that a beautiful story that so many players have built over so many years has been soiled." Many women´s players around the world, including those from World Cup runners-up England, have raised their voices in support of Hermoso.

Fewer have in the men´s game, although Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias retired from the Spanish national team in protest against Rubiales´ conduct and refusal to resign.