FIFA has initiated an investigation into the conduct of Luis Rubiales, the President of the Royal Spanish Football Association (RSFA), following an incident involving him and Women’s World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso. During the trophy and medal ceremony in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, Rubiales embraced Hermoso and kissed her on the lips without her consent. In response, Hermoso expressed her discomfort with the kiss on social media, and the national players’ union issued a statement calling for punishment for such actions.
Initially, Rubiales dismissed the incident, labeling his critics as “idiots and stupid people.” However, he later released a video statement expressing regret for the kiss. FIFA, recognizing the seriousness of the situation, announced that its disciplinary board would launch an investigation into the matter. According to FIFA, Rubiales may have violated article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, which pertain to offensive behavior and violations of the basic rules of decent conduct.
The potential consequences for Rubiales range from a warning to a fine or even suspension from the sport, depending on the outcome of the investigation. However, the Spanish government has also weighed in on the matter, with government ministers demanding Rubiales’ resignation. Acting Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz stated that Rubiales had “attacked a woman” and called for him to face punishment. Similarly, acting Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero denounced the unwanted kiss as an instance of “sexual violence” that is often invisible and normalized in society.
Rubiales has been at the helm of the RSFA for five years and formerly chaired the players’ union that is now demanding his punishment. The RSFA will convene a meeting in Madrid to discuss the incident and determine their stance on the matter. It remains uncertain whether the body will support Rubiales or advocate for his resignation.
The controversy surrounding this incident highlights the importance of consent and the need for respectful behavior, particularly in the realm of sports. It serves as a reminder that inappropriate actions can have serious consequences and can perpetuate harmful norms in society. FIFA’s investigation and potential disciplinary actions in response to Rubiales’ behavior set a precedent for upholding standards of decency and respect within the world of football.
The outcome of the investigation will ultimately determine the consequences for Rubiales and will be closely watched by football fans and advocates for gender equality. It is hoped that this incident will serve as a catalyst for greater awareness and sensitivity in the sports world and beyond. The incident involving Rubiales and Hermoso may be an opportunity for meaningful change and a step towards fostering a more inclusive and respectful environment in women’s football.