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Spain's Luis Rubiales-Jenni Hermoso case: Everything you need to know

Fifa banned Luis Rubiales on Aug 26, 2023, for his conduct at the Women's World Cup final, wherein he kissed a player on the lips without her consent among other things

Luis Rubiales hugging Jenni Hermoso during the Fifa Women's World Cup 2023 medal ceremony. Photo: Spanish Football Federation

Luis Rubiales hugging Jenni Hermoso during the Fifa Women's World Cup 2023 medal ceremony. Photo: Spanish Football Federation

BS Web Team New Delhi

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A World Cup win is supposed to bring joy, inspiration and celebration to a country. It did that for Spain as their football team lifted the Fifa Women’s World Cup trophy on Sunday, defeating England 1-0. However, with it came an incident that not only dampened the celebrations but dragged the Spanish football federation and a women’s team member into a pool of controversies as to who and what was right.

What happened?

Luis Rubiales, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) kissed the Spanish team member Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal and trophy distribution on the field. Earlier the same day, Rubiales grabbed his crotch in a victory gesture seemingly oblivious to 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofa standing nearby. All this pulled the attention away from the celebrations and soured the country's biggest day for women's football.

What was the reaction immediately afterwards?

Seeing the controversy growing, the RFEF tried to downplay the incident. It released a statement attributing it to the player Rubiales kissed. Later it released a video in which Rubiales apologised.

The statement released on behalf of Hermoso by the Federation quoted her as saying. “It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture because of the immense joy that winning a World Cup brings. 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."

However, the apology was termed inadequate by acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The country's acting Minister for Sports and Culture Miquel Iceta told public broadcaster RNE, "It is unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her."

Who is Luis Rubiales?

Rubiales is a former player himself who represented sides such as Guadix CF, RCD Mallorca B, UE Lleida, Xerez CD, and Levante UD, mostly in the second division of the Spanish football league system. He was a defender and scored 11 times in his 269 appearances.

He could never play for the Spanish national side. However, after retiring from professional football, the Canary Islands-born was chosen as the president of the World Players' Union's Spanish affiliate- the Association of Spanish Footballers. He held the position for eight years before being elected to lead the national soccer federation in 2018.

Who is Jenni Hermoso?

Hermoso is Spain’s leading goal-scorer with  51 goals in 101 appearances for the national team since making her debut in 2011 against Turkey. At the club level, Hermoso has played for Rayo Vallecano, Tyreso, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid in Spain and Paris Saint-Germain in France, scoring 165 goals in 195 matches throughout her career.

In the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup,  Hermoso won the Silver Ball after scoring three goals to help her team reach the finals.

Fifa's reaction on the Luis Rubiales Jenni Hermoso issue?

Fifa opened a disciplinary case against the Rubiales on August 25, 2023. It stated that his behaviour violated "the basic rules of decent conduct" as he "behaved in a way that brings the sport of football and/or Fifa into disrepute."

Fifa then slapped a 90-day suspension on Rubiales on Saturday, August 26, 2023. In its statement, the federation asked 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.”

What is the Spanish football federation’s latest defence?

Earlier on Saturday, the federation tried to blame the player. Later it also tried to defend its president by explaining his position at the time of hugging the player.

This came after Futrpro, the Association of Professional Footballers quoted Hermoso as saying, “I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, I never consented to the kiss he planted on me, and of course, I never attempted to lift the president. I will not tolerate my word being doubted, and even less so for words I never uttered.”

The Spanish football federation highlights several points in their press release. Through four photos, all relating to Rubialeshugging Hrmoso, the body tried to project that at no point did Rubiales try to kiss the player forcefully and all of it occurred due to unavoidable circumstances.

What did Rubiales say after the ban?

"Luis Rubiales has stated that he will legally defend himself in the competent bodies, he fully trusts Fifa 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,” BBC quoted Spanish football federation as saying.

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First Published: Aug 26 2023 | 10:50 PM IST

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