Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales has been suspended from ‘all football-related activities’ by international footballing body Fifa for 90 days as a result of his behaviour surrounding the women’s World Cup.
Mr Rubiales has faced intense criticism after he kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the lips following her country’s victory in the final over England.
The player said on Friday that the kiss was not consensual, contradicting claims by Mr Rubiales – with her statement prompting threats of legal action from the Spanish FA.
At least 81 Spanish women’s football players have since announced they will not represent their country again until leadership at their football federation changes.
Mr Rubiales has refused to step down despite being urged to by numerous commentators including Spain’s deputy Prime Minister.
In a widely condemned speech on Friday, Mr Rubiales repeatedly told the Spanish FA “I will not resign” and was applauded by a number of people in the audience including Spain’s manager Jorge Vilda.
Fifa’s disciplinary committee says it has stepped in and used its powers to “provisionally suspend” Mr Rubiales at both national and international level.
In a statement, Fifa said: “This suspension, which will be effective as of today, is for an initial period of 90 days, pending the disciplinary proceedings opened against Mr. Luis Rubiales on Thursday, August 24.”
Fifa said it had also issued two “directives” that neither Mr Rubiales, nor any employees of the Spanish FA, should contact Jenni Hermoso until a final decision has been made.
The statement adds: “Fifa reiterates its absolute commitment to respect the integrity of all persons and therefore condemns with the utmost vigour any behaviour to the contrary.”
It comes after the Spanish FA announced an intention to take legal action over Jenni Hermoso’s latest comments on the saga.
Hermoso was quoted in a statement issued by Futpro, the players’ union representing her, as stating: “I feel obliged to report that Mr Rubiales’ words explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated. The kiss was never consensual”.
She said she had come under pressure to defend him since the incident – and also denied lifting him off his feet. The Federation says it has analysed four images of Hermoso and Rubiales embracing, claiming they show it was Hermoso’s force that lifted him – which he denied.
Hermoso had accused the Federation of a “manipulative, hostile and controlling culture” as the World Cup-winning squad refused to play while Rubiales remains in post.
Mr Rubiales claimed the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual” but Hermoso, who previously suggested comments playing down the incident attributed to her by the federation were false, hit back with an attack on the organisation as a whole.
The Spanish footballing body said: “The RFEF announces the presentation of as many legal actions as may correspond in defence of the honourability of the President of the RFEF.
“In the union’s note, it is said to speak on behalf of Jennifer Hermoso and some statements by the player are attributed to her that are in quotation marks, implying that they have been pronounced by her.
“The RFEF wishes to inform public opinion that the competent bodies of the RFEF that are processing the complaints filed with the Federation have tried to contact Jennifer Hermoso, having been unsuccessful at all times.
“The RFEF and Mr President will demonstrate each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself.
“The RFEF and the President, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the Futpro Union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions.
“The RFEF regrets that after such an extraordinary sporting success as the one that occurred in the Soccer World Championship, it cannot be celebrated as the situation and success deserves for completely non-sports reasons.”