Football’s ruling world body FIFA said on Saturday it had suspended Spanish federation chief Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities for three months as it investigates an incident in which he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips after Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory.
The suspension from national and international activities takes effect immediately from Saturday, FIFA said in a statement on the action taken by disciplinary committee chief Jorge Ivan Palacio.
FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday over his actions last Sunday in Sydney.
Rubiales has been defiant over the kiss – which has been condemned as unwanted by Hermoso, her teammates and the Spanish government – arguing it was consensual. Earlier on Saturday the federation he heads had said it would stick by him.
However, after the FIFA statement, a spokesperson for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said “We respect all the pronouncements of FIFA”.
In a statement hours before the FIFA move, the federation had said it would show there have been lies told about what happened by Hermoso or people speaking for her.
The statement, issued on the RFEF website, said it would take appropriate legal action to defend Rubiales’ honour, but did not say what the action would consist of.
Rubiales refused on Friday to resign as RFEF chief, seeking to defend his behaviour and calling the kiss “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.
Hermoso said she did not consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression”.
The Spanish government cannot fire Rubiales but has strongly denounced his actions and said on Friday it was seeking to get him suspended using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal.
The Spain women’s team has also mutinied. In a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union on Friday evening, all 23 of the cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as 32 other squad members, said they would not play internationals while Rubiales remains head of the federation.
In the same statement, Hermoso denied Rubiales’ contention that the kiss he gave her was consensual, writing, “I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and, of course, in no case did I seek to lift the president”.