FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Thursday that Luis Rubiales’ kiss on the mouth of Spanish women’s football star Jenni Hermoso “should never have happened”.
In his first reaction to the incident which happened at the presentation ceremony following Spain’s win over England in the Women’s World Cup final, Infantino said the behaviour of Spanish federation boss Rubiales had “spoiled” the occasion.
“The well-deserved celebrations for these magnificent champions were spoiled by what happened after the final whistle,” Infantino wrote on Instagram.
“And what continued to happen in the following days. This should never have happened.”
FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on August 24 — four days after the final in Sydney — and then provisionally suspended him from all football activities at national and international level for 90 days, while the investigation continues.
“FIFA’s disciplinary bodies immediately assumed their responsibility and took the necessary actions. The disciplinary proceedings will continue their legitimate course,” added Infantino who was at the trophy presentation after the final.
“On our side, we should continue to focus on how to further support women and women’s football in future, both on and off the pitch. Upholding true values and respecting the players as persons as well as for their fantastic performances.”
Meanwhile, Spain’s controversial Women’s World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda is set to be forced out as the scandal engulfs the Spanish football federation.
Over 80 national team players are striking in protest until the leadership of the federation (RFEF) is changed, in the wake of Rubiales’ forcible kiss on the lips of midfielder Hermoso.
Vilda, who last week applauded a speech in which Rubiales refused to resign from his position and railed against “false feminism”, later criticised Rubiales’ “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour.
While the majority of Spain’s coaching staff offered to step down in the wake of the Rubiales incident, Vilda did not, after Rubiales publicly announced the coach was in line for a new contract with a big pay hike.
Reports in Spain on Thursday said the RFEF’s regional presidents had agreed on the need for Vilda’s departure at a meeting Monday, although he is said to want another role at the federation if he leaves his current post.
“We can’t say that (he has been sacked), we haven’t met with Vilda, until next week,” said interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha.
“Once we have, we will explain the relevant news… first we have to listen and talk, that’s the important thing.”
Rocha confirmed Spain men’s coach Luis de la Fuente, who led the team to UEFA Nations League glory in June, would be staying — despite criticism in some quarters after he too applauded Rubiales’ speech.
“Absolutely (staying), he is backed by all the members of the federation,” said Rocha.
“He is a hard worker who is doing wonderfully.”
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