Next steps for Rubiales, Spain, RFEF after World Cup kiss

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Luis Rubiales is fighting to remain president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) despite mounting pressure from various sports bodies and the government to resign over his behavior after the Women’s World Cup final earlier this month.

Rubiales, 46, finally lost the RFEF’s support this week when FIFA suspended him from all football activities for 90 days. That left a committee of the federation’s regional presidents in charge, and on Monday, they called on him to step down.

A criminal case is still pending after his unwanted kiss on Spain national team star Jenny Hermoso. Rubiales said there was consent, but Hermoso denied that claim and said he felt “tortured.” Rubiales has also been criticized for other actions during celebrations after Spain beat England in Sydney, including grabbing his crotch, kissing other players and carrying another on his shoulder, but the incident with Hermoso is the subject of legal proceedings.

Rubiales’ five years at the top of the RFEF have been marked by controversial incidents and allegations against him, from the sacking of men’s national team coach Julen Lopetegui to a high-profile spat with him after just one month in charge. Women’s team last September.

Now with proceedings opening on several fronts of his behavior, ESPN looks at what could happen next, as well as Rubiales’ possible response.

Could Rubial go to jail?

It is worth noting that there are two parallel processes going on here. While disciplinary proceedings are underway against Rubiales in sporting terms — both internationally through FIFA, and with the Spanish government’s efforts to remove Rubiales — a criminal case and subsequent criminal penalties are also likely.

Spanish prosecutors announced Monday that they had opened a preliminary investigation into Rubiales’ conduct and would give Hermoso the opportunity to file charges against him. Players have two weeks to decide whether to participate.

Prosecutors will point to Hermoso’s statement last week, in which she denied Rubiales’ kiss was consensual and said she “felt vulnerable and attacked.” This suggests a potential crime of sexual assault, should Hermoso decide to press charges.

“Rubial’s behavior could be considered sexual harassment based on current Spanish law,” Ignacio Alvarez Serrano, an associate lawyer at Gómez-Ecebo and Pombo Abogados, told ESPN. “[The legislation] Such misconduct is punishable by 1-2 years in prison, and 18-24 months of professional disqualification. … The problem in Spain is that victims of this type of misconduct usually don’t report it to the police because they fear losing their jobs.”

In the event of a successful prosecution, Rubiales would be unlikely to serve jail time: prison sentences of less than two years are usually suspended in Spain if the guilty party has no criminal record and does not reoffend.

Of course, this incident happened in Australia, but Spanish law allows acts committed abroad to be tried in Spanish courts, if the parties involved are Spanish nationals and the conduct in question is also a crime in the country where it occurred. — Kirkland

How can Rubiales be removed from office? Who makes the decisions?

There are several ways Rubiales could be forced to give up his position. Barring his resignation, the quickest would be through a no-confidence vote presented to the RFEF’s general assembly, the same body that applauded Rubiales’ dramatic non-resignation on Friday. The assembly is made up of the 19 presidents of Spain’s regional federations, as well as elected representatives of clubs, players, coaches and referees, totaling 140 members. Out of these 140 members, 46 must propose a no-confidence motion, which requires an absolute majority to pass.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government is also seeking his removal through its Supreme Sports Council (CSD). The CSD filed a complaint with the country’s Sports Administrative Court (TAD), which requested more documents before deciding whether to take up the complaint. In this sense, the case focuses on Spain’s new sports law, which was approved in 2022. Sections 4 and 5 of the Act focus on equality, discrimination, sexual abuse and harassment in sport on the basis of gender or position. the authority

“[The outcome] Even for lawyers it seems very difficult to predict,” Alvarez Serrano told ESPN. “The lawsuit filed by the CSD seems to me to be a pressure measure, intended to force Rubiales to resign. It is very complicated because the RFEF is not a public institution and the authorities are not legally able to remove Rubiales with a single, swift administrative decision.”

Outside of Spain, UEFA — which has so far been silent on the matter — and FIFA could also step in. — Marsden

What will UEFA and FIFA’s action mean?

Rubiales is one of UEFA’s vice presidents and sits on the organization’s executive committee. However, no official comment has been made on the matter yet.

On Monday, however, sources told ESPN that UEFA will not comply with the Spanish federation’s request (made before Rubiales was suspended) for a ban due to government interference. Such a ban would have prevented Spanish teams from competing in competitions such as the UEFA Champions League — in essence, destroying Spanish football to protect Rubiales — and swayed public opinion in favor of allowing Rubiales to keep his job. That last-ditch request was made on Friday, while Rubiales was still in charge, but RFEF regional presidents have now called for Rubiales’ suspension to be lifted.

Sources added that UEFA is leaving the disciplinary process to FIFA as Rubiales’ actions took place at a FIFA event.

FIFA initiated disciplinary action against Rubiales on Thursday. On Saturday, it temporarily suspended him from all football and ordered him to avoid contact with Hermoso for 90 days while an investigation is conducted. Reports suggest it could ban him for 15 years, the maximum possible period under FIFA law. — Marsden

the game

0:53

Spanish government says Rubiales’ behavior ‘taints’ Women’s World Cup win

Spanish Sports Minister Mikel Iceta said the government has brought a process for suspension against the president of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales.

What about the opposition from the players, and where does coach Jorge Vilda stand in all this?

Spain’s World Cup-winning squad has been vocal in their support for Hermoso and their move to the RFEF. All 23 members of the squad co-signed a statement on Friday — joined by 58 other current and former players — saying they would not return to play for the national team again “if the current management continues.” This came after the infamous letter sent to the RFEF last year, when 15 players made themselves unavailable while coach Jorge Vilda was in charge. From there, 12 of them missed the World Cup, with seven refusing to be selected.

The latest players’ boycott brings a sense of urgency to the process, as Spain have two crucial matches coming up next month: UEFA Nations League matches against Sweden in Gothenburg in September. 22, and Switzerland in Cordoba in September. 26. These games are important, as the League of Nations dictates which teams will qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Three UEFA slots go to France (as hosts) and two to the Nations League finalists.

The identity of Spain’s coach for those matches is also questionable. Vilda – as well as her men’s counterpart, Luis de la Fuente – has been criticized for praising Rubiales’ “I’m not going to resign” speech on Friday. That speech also included a surprise offer of a new, four-year contract for Vilda earning €500,000 a year. But 11 members of Vilda’s coaching staff resigned in protest at Rubiales’ actions, and Vilda himself issued a statement distancing himself from his now-sacked boss.

There have been reports that the RFEF’s caretaker charge would favor a fresh start for the women’s team with a clean slate and a new coach, allowing for a reunion with the players, but nothing official yet. — Kirkland

What’s next for Rubiales?

Rubiales has not spoken since Friday’s speech to the RFEF assembly, when he emphatically refused to resign, shouting “I will not resign” five times.

What he does next will depend on what action is taken against him. He must first decide whether to step down as RFEF president after losing the support of regional presidents. Given his position last week, that seems unlikely, but as he becomes increasingly isolated, he may have little choice. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, prosecutors in Spain have opened a preliminary sexual assault investigation into the incident. However, for the investigation to proceed, Hermoso must press charges against Rubiales. As of Tuesday, he had not taken legal action.

Rubiales vowed to fight “to the end” to clear her name, blaming “false feminists” and a campaign against her for the backlash to her behavior after the World Cup final. His mother, Ángeles Bejar, retaliated against his treatment and went on hunger strike in a church in her hometown of Motril in Andalusia. On Tuesday, 24 hours into his strike, she said She “didn’t mind dying” for justice for her son, saying he was the victim of an “inhumane, bloodthirsty witch hunt”. — Marsden

the game

0:58

How FIFA took action against Luis Rubiales

Alex Kirkland explains FIFA’s decision to temporarily suspend Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities for 90 days.

What’s next for RFEF?

The RFEF’s belated efforts at damage limitation began on Monday. FIFA’s provisional suspension of Rubiales led a committee of the federation’s regional presidents, and after a six-hour meeting, it issued a statement to those with a different tone to that issued by the RFEF the previous week.

The committee requested Rubiales’ resignation and called for a “deep and immediate” restructuring of the federation. Notably, after years of intermittent clashes with La Liga led by Rubiales, the committee called for “a new era in which dialogue and reconciliation with all the institutions of football should be pursued.”

In temporary charge is Pedro Rocha, 69, who has been an RFEF vice-president since 2018 and heads the Football Federation of the Extremadura region. Rocha is closely associated with Rubiales, often referred to as his “right-hand man” — unlikely to be a long-term candidate if the mood changes. The next presidential elections are due in 2024 — they coincide with the Olympic years — and the RFEF will run on an interim basis until then. — Kirkland

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