Spanish Football Luis Rubiales Faces Controversy

Luis Rubiales

Spanish Football Association leaders have urged President Luis Rubiales to resign following an incident where he kissed a player.

After kissing a player during the Women’s World Cup final, top officials of the Spanish Football Association demanded the suspension of their President, Luis Rubiales. Regional bodies responsible for setting up the association made the collective plea in a joint statement.

The statement read, “In light of recent events and unacceptable behavior that has tarnished the image of Spanish football, we, the presidents, request that Luis Rubiales immediately resign from his position as president of the Spanish Football Association.”

UEFA Involvement

Officials made an urgent plea to the interim president, Pedro Rocha, to revoke their earlier request to UEFA to suspend Spain from international competitions on Monday due to governmental interference. This move was widely perceived as an attempt to silence Rubiales’ critics, including government ministers, who sought his removal. Such a suspension would prevent Spanish teams from participating in tournaments like the Champions League, possibly gaining public support to retain him in his position.

Luis Rubiales

Football governing bodies have long-standing rules preventing national governments from interfering with domestic football operations. However, a source familiar with the issue told the Associated Press on Monday that UEFA wouldn’t heed the Spanish federation’s request.

Worldwide Criticism Luis Rubiales

Rubiales has faced global criticism for his actions during the Women’s World Cup final, including an instance where he kissed Spain’s player, Jenni Hermoso, without her consent on the field during the trophy ceremony. FIFA, the football regulatory body, suspended him on Saturday, currently investigating his conduct.

Rubiales’ mother began a hunger strike in a church in southern Spain on Monday in defense of her son, decrying his “bloody and inhuman persecution.”

The unprecedented request for suspension by the Spanish federation seemed to bolster attempts to save Rubiales’ job, pitching influential clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the men’s national team, against his critics. Notably, Rubiales also serves as a vice president of UEFA.

Luis Rubiales : Immediate Impacts

Spain’s top clubs are set to participate in the Champions League group-stage draw made by UEFA on Thursday. Moreover, the men’s national team has matches scheduled on 8 and 12 September for the 2024 European Championship qualifiers.

Following the takeover of the investigation process, FIFA opened a disciplinary case against Rubiales, who had organized the Women’s World Cup. His actions during and after Spain’s 1-0 win over England in the final in Sydney on 20 August have focused scrutiny on his and the association’s five-year tenure.

While FIFA did not implement its version of rules against governmental interference in support of Rubiales, the Spanish federation reportedly urged UEFA to act in a letter sent last Friday. On the same day, the embattled president refused to resign during an emergency meeting.

FIFA’s suspension prohibits Rubiales from participating in official activities and communicating with other officials, which includes Spain’s bid, possibly alongside Portugal, Morocco, and Ukraine, to co-host the 2030 World Cup.

FIFA’s disciplinary judge, Jorge Palacio, also ordered Rubiales and the federation not to contact Hermoso. He has claimed that the association pressured him publicly to support Rubiales.

The recently crowned world champions of Spain, however, have not been dragged into a national scandal and had deflected attention with their victory. Yet, they have stated they won’t play any more matches as long as Rubiales remains in charge.