FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Luis Rubiales on Thursday after the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president kissed Spain star Jenni Hermoso on the lips following the Women’s World Cup final last weekend.
“The FIFA disciplinary committee informed Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Association, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him based on the events that occurred during the final,” world football’s governing body said in a statement.
FIFA said the incident “may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA disciplinary code”.
Spain star Hermoso released a joint statement with union Futpro on Wednesday, which called for action to be taken against the RFEF president.
“We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable,” the statement said.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International offered their backing to Hermoso on Thursday.
“Amnesty International wants to show their support for the demands of the player, who has asked the (RFEF) to set underway ‘exemplary measures’ regarding the non-consensual kiss,” said the organisation in a statement.
“(We) underline that this behaviour is a form of sexual violence like any other, and cannot be justified in any way.”
Spain’s women’s football league, Liga F, has also called for Rubiales to be sacked.
The RFEF have opened an investigation into Rubiales’ conduct and are holding an emergency meeting on Friday.
Rubiales, 46, initially attacked his critics before eventually apologising but the criticism of his behaviour has not abated.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez previously said that Rubiales’ apology for the kiss was “not enough”.
– ‘Not behaviour of president’ –
Earlier Thursday Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti criticised Rubiales for his conduct.
“It’s a very delicate topic, like most people it was behaviour that I obviously did not like,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
“It was not the behaviour of a president of the federation.”
The Italian coach would not be further drawn on the issue.
“I don’t know if he should resign or not, I think he will take the most adequate decision,” added Ancelotti.
Real Madrid play Celta Vigo in La Liga on Friday and the Galicians’ manager Rafa Benitez also spoke about Rubiales.
“The success of the national team is the news and unfortunately it’s been relegated to the background,” said Benitez.
“We all agree we have seen behaviour which was not correct and the competent authorities are there to take decisions.”
Further Spanish clubs joined the wave of dissent against Rubiales on Thursday, following Getafe president Angel Torres the day before.
“We must all be consistent with what we do and say, that’s a fundamental thing,” Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo told TV show Jugones on Spanish channel Mega.
“He will have to do what he considers appropriate, but I think that what he has to do is present his resignation.”
Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay also positioned himself against Rubiales.
“This should have been over days ago, it’s a shame that we are here and this has not been concluded,” he told Radio Euskadi.
“What I felt when I saw (his behaviour at the final) all at once was that he had to resign, that it couldn’t be.
“That’s what I felt, that he was mistaken. It’s a serious, profound error.”
Meanwhile the Basque football federation said they will not attend the RFEF meeting on Friday because of the “seriousness” of the events which took place at the Women’s World Cup final.
American forward Megan Rapinoe, the world’s highest-profile women’s player, was similarly scathing in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this week.
“What kind of upside-down world are we in? On the biggest stage, where you should be celebrating, Jenni has to be physically assaulted by this guy,” said Rapinoe.
She referred to Rubiales’ behaviour at the final as portraying “a deep level of misogyny and sexism”.
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