20th June 2024
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FIFA provisionally suspends Rubiales, as RFEF threatens to sue protesting female players

#UPDATED at 17.30h on Sunday 27 August

FIFA, the international governing body of football, has provisionally suspended Luis Rubiales from any activity related to football at national or international level for three months.

The Colombian Jorge Ivan Palacio, president of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, announced that ‘this suspension, which will be effective as of today [Saturday], is for an initial period of 90 days, pending the disciplinary proceedings opened against Mr. Luis Rubiales on Thursday 24 August.’

Rubiales, president of Spain’s Football Federation (RFEF) and facing calls to resign for forcibly kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips and his lewd behaviour at last week’s World Cup Final, is also suspended from his position as UEFA vice-president. The FIFA body has also prevented Rubiales or any member of the RFEF from making any contact with Hermoso.

‘Likewise, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and in order to preserve, among other factors, the fundamental rights of the national soccer team player Ms. Jennifer Hermoso and the good order of the disciplinary proceedings before this disciplinary body, has issued two additional directives (article 7 FDC) by which he orders Mr. Luis Rubiales to refrain, through himself or third parties, from contacting or attempting to contact the professional player of the Spanish national football team Ms. Jennifer Hermoso or her close environment,’ the statement from FIFA added.

The RFEF, meanwhile, announcing that Pedro Rocha, the president of football in the Extremadura region, had been chosen by Rubiales to replace him for the next three months, said in response: ‘Luis Rubiales has stated that he will defend himself legally in the competent bodies, he has full confidence in the FIFA bodies and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defence so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven.’

Original full report:

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has now threatened to sue the 79 women’s football players who on Friday signed a statement in which they refused to play for their country as long as the federation president, Luis Rubiales, remains in his post.

The RFEF has also issued a series of photos in an attempt to discredit the personal statement of Jenni Hermoso and give its own version of events surrounding the kiss from Rubiales during the awards ceremony at the World Cup Final – a kiss that Hermoso says was not consensual and made her feel ‘vulnerable and the victim of an aggression’.

‘At no time did I consent to the kiss,’ Hermoso said in her statement (see full statement below). ‘I won’t tolerate having my word doubted, much less have people inventing things that I didn’t say.’ ALSO READ: Top players say ‘unacceptable’ after Spain’s football chief refuses to quit over kiss.

In its statement (click here to read it in full in Spanish), and in reply to the statement from FUTPRO on Friday, the RFEF said that it would take the ‘necessary legal action’ and told the players that ‘playing for the national team is an obligation on any member of the federation called upon to do so’.

On Friday Rubiales vowed to stay on as head of the RFEF and in a meandering speech railed against ‘false feminism’ and a ‘social assassination’ of his character. He also claimed that he had asked Hermoso if he could give her a little peck. ‘She said OK,’ he said.

In her personal statement that followed, Hermoso rejected any suggestion that the kiss was consensual, describing Rubiales’ description as ‘categorically false’ and saying the ‘conversation did not happen’.

Instead, she said, the incident had initially left her in ‘shock’, but she was now speaking out. ‘I feel the need to denounce what happened because I believe that no person, in any work, sports or social environment, should be a victim of this type of non-consensual behaviour,’ she said. ‘I felt vulnerable and the victim of an aggression, an impulsive, machista [chauvinistic] act, out of place and without any consent on my part. Simply put, I was not respected.’

In its statement aiming to clarify the events surrounding the embrace and kiss, the RFEF has issued four photos (main photo of this report included), in which it describes how Hermoso and Rubiales hugged, and trying to show that Rubiales was ‘lifted off the ground’ by the player, and that therefore ‘the president must bring his arms closer to the player’s back as a result of him being lifted off the ground and to maintain balance’. The clarifications from the RFEF are in response to a quote from Hermoso denying that she lifted Rubiales off the ground, and in this way seeking to discredit her version of events of the kiss that followed. 

In an Instagram live stream of the celebrations in the dressing rooms after the World Cup Final last Sunday, Hermoso was seen apparently making her distaste known about the kiss, responding, ‘Hey, but I didn’t like that!’ when shown a video clip of it – although she was laughing as she spoke. 

Later, the media cited comments supposedly made by Hermosa yet passed to them by the RFEF.

‘It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings,’ she reportedly said. ‘The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has been outstanding and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude.’ Hermosa has said that these words were written by the federation, not herself. She also also said her family and friends had come under pressure to produce a similar statement.

Jenni Hermoso’s personal statement:

After obtaining one of the most desired achievements of my sporting career and after a few days of reflection, I want to thank, with all my heart, my teammates, fans, followers, media and everyone who has made this dream a reality; your work and unconditional support has been a fundamental part to be able to win the World Cup.

In reference to what has happened today [Rubiales’ speech] and while I don’t want to interfere with the multiple ongoing legal procedures, I feel obligated to say that the words of Mr Luis Rubiales explaining the unfortunate event are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture he has created.

I want to make clear that not in any moment did the conversation occur that Mr Luis Rubiales references, and much less that his kiss was consensual. In the same way I want to reiterate how I did in that moment that what happened was not enjoyable.

The situation left me in shock because of the context of the celebration, and with the time passed, and those initial feelings being able to sink, I feel the need to denounce this as I feel that no one, in no work space, sporting or social, should be a victim to this time of unconsensual behaviour. I felt vulnerable and a victim of aggression, an impulsive act, sexist, out of place and without any type of consent from my part. In short, I wasn’t respected.

I was asked to released a joint statement to relieve the pressure off the president, but in those moments, in my head I only had being able to celebrate the historic achievement I accomplished with my teammates. That’s why, in that moment I communicated with the RFEF … and the same with media and people I trust, that I would not be releasing an individual statement nor a joint statement about the matter, as I understood that, by doing it, I would take away the spotlight from a very special moment for my teammates and I.

Despite my decision I have to state that I have been under constant pressure to come out with some sort of statement that would justify the acts of Mr Luis Rubiales. Not only that, but also, via different ways and different people, the RFEF has pressured my close circle (family, friends, teammates, etc) so I would give a statement that had little or nothing to do with how I felt.

It’s not my place to evaluate communication practices or integrity, but I am sure that as world champions we do not deserve a culture so manipulative, hostile and controlling. These types of incidents are added to a long list of situations that us, the players, have been [enduring] for the last few years, for what has been done, for what I have experienced, this is only a drop in a full glass and only what the whole world has been able to see. Acts like these have been part of daily life in our national team for years.

Overall, I want to restate my position that I have taken from the start, considering that I don’t have to support the person that has committed this action against my will, who didn’t respect me, in a historic moment for me and for women’s sport of this country.

In no situation, can it be my responsibility to assume the consequences to have to transmit something that I don’t believe, and for that reason I have ignored the pressure [I was put under].

I want to close by making it very clear that while it is me expressing this, these words are that of all the players in Spain and the world that have given me strength to come out with this statement. After the lack of respect and the incapacity to recognise errors and accept the consequences, I have made the decisions to not return to the national team while the current leaders are in position.

Thank you to everyone for the messages of support and words of encouragement I have received. I know that I am not alone and thanks to everyone we will continue forward together. I leave the trusted people from TMJ and Futpro [players’ union] with this topic and they will continue working in the next steps after the recent advancements.

ALSO READ: Top players say ‘unacceptable’ after Spain’s football chief refuses to quit over kiss.

ALSO READ: ‘Harassment, assault … denigrating Spanish sport’ – pressure grows on Rubiales to resign.

ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez: Women’s World Cup champions are an inspiration for youth.

ALSO READ: Calls for Spain’s football chief to resign after kissing player on lips.

ALSO READ: Olga Carmona, goalscorer in Spain’s World Cup win, later learned her father had died.

ALSO READSpain beat England 1-0 to win the Women’s World Cup.

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