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FIFA suspends Spanish Football Federation boss involved in post-match kiss

FIFA, the world governing body of football, announced on Saturday that it had provisionally suspended Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation. He was found to have forcibly kissed a player, Jennifer Hermoso, on the lips after Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup last Sunday.

in one opinionFIFA announced that Mr Rubiales would be suspended “from all football-related activities” at national and international level for an initial period of 90 days from Saturday. The panel also ordered both Mr Rubiales and the football association he runs to refrain from contacting Ms Hermoso, a striker for the victorious Spain national team.

The decision came less than a day after the Spanish Football Federation said it would stand by Mr Rubiales, who insisted he had done nothing to Ms Hermoso and threatened legal action to protect his president’s reputation.

Mr Rubiales’ kiss at last weekend’s Women’s World Cup medal ceremony in Australia – which was broadcast live in front of millions of viewers – overshadows the Spain side’s celebrations, drawing attention away from a proud national moment and towards a legacy of sexism scandals in Spanish football. Ms Hermoso said she never agreed to the kiss but was under pressure to initially publicly support Mr Rubiales and downplay his actions.

“I felt vulnerable and the victim of an impulsive, sexist, inappropriate act without my consent,” she said in an interview opinion on Friday. Futpro, Spain’s largest association of professional women footballers, has supported Ms. Hermoso and criticized The behavior of Mr Rubiales and several Spanish football clubs.

Many thought Mr Rubiales, who dubbed the kiss a consensual “kiss” during a speech, would step down and end the controversy. His refusal to do so sparked outrage in a country that sees fighting sexism as a societal priority. Leading politicians, including ministers, condemned his behavior and called for his resignation.

On Saturday, Spain’s top sports federation filed lodged a formal complaint against Mr Rubiales with an administrative court responsible for sports disputes, accusing him of abusing his authority and violating public sporting decency.

“We are ready for this to be the #MeToo of Spanish football and for this to be a change,” Victor Francos Díaz, who heads Spain’s National Sports Council, told reporters on Friday before filing the complaint.

“We are facing grave circumstances, an unacceptable situation that deserves the government’s condemnation,” said Miquel Iceta, Spain’s culture and sport minister, adding that the complaint paved the way for Mr Rubiales’ suspension pending the court’s decision could.

Both the kiss and the federation’s vigorous defense of the embattled president have sparked debate over a history of misogyny allegations in Spanish football. The previous head coach of the women’s national soccer team, Ignacio Quereda, served 27 years before being sacked over sexism allegations.

“This situation has not only caused structural damage to women’s football, but also to sport in general and the values ​​it transmits to society,” said Dolors Ribalta Alcalde, specialist in women’s football at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona.

But in one opinion The Spanish Football Federation, released late on Friday, fought back and vowed to take “as much legal action as is reasonable to defend the President’s honour” in response to Ms Hermoso’s account of events after the 1-0 win Spain’s over England last Sunday.

And in one speech At a meeting of the Spanish Football Federation on Friday, Mr Rubiales defended himself by saying the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”. He accused his critics of practicing “false feminism” to put him down, earning applause from the mostly male audience.

Mr Rubiales said that as Ms Hermoso lined up on stage to collect her medal, “was the one who lifted me in her arms and brought me close to her body.” Then, according to Mr Rubiales’ account, he asked her if he could give her a little kiss and she said “Vale” or “OK”.

Ms Hermoso initially downplayed the kiss, saying it was a “spontaneous mutual gesture”. However, in her statement on Friday, she added that she had been pressured by the Spanish Football Federation “to make a statement that had little or nothing to do with my feelings”. In a video after the game, she could be heard expressing her displeasure: “Hey, but I didn’t like that!”

Mr Rubiales was also criticized after a video surfaced of him grabbing his genitals with both hands to celebrate Spain’s win. (He later apologized.)

In his opinion The Spanish Football Federation provided four images of the hug on Friday, claiming they were visual evidence of Mr Rubiales’ version of events.

Players from the Spain women’s team and dozens of others have said they will refuse to play for the national team until “the current front runners”, including Mr Rubiales, are gone.

dr Ribalta, the sports scientist, described Mr Rubiales’ behavior – both the kiss and his reaction to the outcry – as the culmination of years of mistreatment of female players.

The Spain women’s national team has long lacked elite training facilities and even kits specifically designed for women to wear. Last year, 15 players revolted against their coach Jorge Vilda and the association and complained about outdated training methods and controlling behavior.

“We have reached a crucial point in time where changes must be implemented,” said Dr. Ribalta.

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