Luis Rubiales, the once-respected president of Spain’s football federation (RFEF), has found himself at the center of a storm of controversy. His actions during the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney have led to disciplinary proceedings by FIFA and widespread public outrage. This article delves into the sequence of events that have led to Rubiales’ expected resignation and the implications for Spanish football and beyond.
The Incident: A Kiss and a Crotch Grab
During the Women’s World Cup final between Spain and England, Rubiales was caught on camera kissing Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation. He also grabbed his crotch while celebrating Spain’s 1-0 victory over England. These actions were not only inappropriate but also occurred in close proximity to Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter, Sofia.
FIFA Steps In
FIFA’s disciplinary committee has opened proceedings against Rubiales based on violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. These sections cover “offensive behavior and violations of the principles of fair play.” FIFA has stated that it will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once a final decision has been made.
Public and Political Backlash
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, described Rubiales’ apology as “insufficient.” The Spanish FA has called an extraordinary general assembly to discuss the matter and has also opened internal proceedings against Rubiales. Various football unions and associations have expressed their “firm and resounding condemnation” for behavior “which violates the dignity of women.”
The Succession Dilemma
With Rubiales planning to resign, the RFEF is in a state of crisis. Regional leaders of the RFEF have been discussing potential successors, with Pedro Rocha, head of the Extremadura Football Federation, and Pablo Lozano, head of the Andalusia Federation, being the favorites.
UEFA and Future Implications
Rubiales is also a UEFA vice-president and a member of its ruling executive committee. If he departs, the Spanish federation could ask UEFA for the right to nominate a replacement. Moreover, FIFA’s proceedings could hamper Spain’s bid to co-host the 2030 men’s World Cup finals, which Rubiales is helping to lead.
The Larger Conversation: Respect and Integrity in Football
The Women In Football group welcomed FIFA’s move, stating that unwelcome physical contact is never acceptable. The incident has sparked a larger conversation about the need for respect and integrity in football, not just from players but also from those in positions of power.
The Unanswered Questions
What Will Be the Final Verdict from FIFA?: As FIFA’s disciplinary proceedings are still ongoing, the football world is keenly awaiting the final decision.
Who Will Succeed Rubiales?: The choice of a successor could set the tone for the future of Spanish football.
What Impact Will This Have on Spain’s 2030 World Cup Bid?: With Rubiales being a key figure in Spain’s bid to co-host the 2030 men’s World Cup, his departure could have significant implications.
The Rubiales saga serves as a cautionary tale for those in positions of power in the world of sports. It underscores the need for ethical conduct and respect for all individuals, irrespective of their role in the game.