Kiss prompts FIFA investigation of Spanish football president

Government ministers have demanded that Luis Rubales be punished for smooching World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso

FIFA has launched a disciplinary probe into Royal Spanish Football Association (RSFA) President Luis Rubiales after he gave an unsolicited kiss to Women’s World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso following the team’s triumph over England on Sunday.

Rubiales embraced Hermoso and planted a kiss on her lips during the trophy and medal ceremony in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday. Hermoso said on social media that she “didn’t like” the kiss, while the national players’ union released a statement on Wednesday demanding that “acts like the ones we witnessed don’t go unpunished.”

Rubiales initially downplayed the incident, calling his critics “idiots and stupid people.” However, he released a video statement on Monday calling the kiss “something that I regret.”

FIFA announced on Thursday that its disciplinary board would investigate the incident, and that «the events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.» 

Article 13 concerns «offensive behavior» by players and officials, with paragraphs 1 and 2 forbidding them from «violating the basic rules of decent conduct» and «behaving in a way that brings the sport into disrepute.»

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Rubiales could face a warning, a fine, or suspension from the sport. 

The kiss incited a storm of controversy in Spain, with senior officials in the country’s socialist government demanding Rubiales’ resignation. Acting Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz claimed that the football boss “attacked a woman» and should be punished, while acting Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero declared on social media that an unwanted kiss represents «sexual violence” that “continues to be invisible and normalized.”

Rubiales has led the RSFA for five years, and beforehand chaired the players’ union now demanding his punishment. The RSFA will hold a meeting in Madrid on Friday to discuss the incident, and it is still unclear whether the body will back the president or press for his resignation.

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