Luis Rubiales, the incumbent president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), is set to relinquish his position following a controversial incident that has garnered extensive criticism.
The unexpected turn of events has shaken the Spanish football community and caught the attention of international bodies and high-profile figures outside the sports sector.
The chain of events that has led to Rubiales’ imminent resignation began in Sydney after Spain’s women’s team secured a laudable 1-0 win over England in the Women’s World Cup final. As celebrations ensued, Rubiales, overcome with elation, inappropriately kissed Jennifer Hermoso, a key midfielder for the team, without her consent. Further exacerbating the situation, Rubiales made another inappropriate gesture by grabbing his genitals, amplifying the controversy surrounding him.
Widespread Outcry and Condemnation
Rubiales’ actions were not taken lightly, with criticism from multiple sectors. Notably, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and officials from the women’s league were among those who demanded his resignation. The matter reached the global football governing body FIFA, which commenced disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales. They scrutinized whether his actions breached FIFA’s established disciplinary code.
Jennifer Hermoso, deeply affected by the incident, collaborated with the Futpro union to issue a collective statement. This statement called for accountability and addressed the gravity of Rubiales’ actions. Further international support for Hermoso came from Amnesty International, which categorically labelled the incident as a manifestation of sexual violence, emphasizing that such behaviour is inexcusable.
Rubiales’ Failed Attempts at Damage Control
In the aftermath of the controversy, Rubiales’ response was far from satisfactory for many. Initially, he seemed to downplay the incident and disregarded the criticisms levelled against him. Even though he later issued apologies, the damage had been done. The majority felt that his position as the RFEF president had become indefensible.
As the Spanish football community gathers for an extraordinary general assembly, the focus will undoubtedly be on Rubiales’ departure and the ensuing search for his successor. Having assumed the RFEF presidency in 2018 with a vision of modernity and transparency, Rubiales’ tenure has unfortunately been punctuated with controversies, significantly undermining his credibility and standing in the football world.