Luis Rubiales says he has faced a “media lynching” after Spain’s Administrative Sports Court (TAD) opened a case against him following his kiss on Jennifer Hermoso at the Women’s World Cup final.
In a statement released on Friday, Rubiales said his position is that the kiss with Hermoso was “consensual” and he “would continue to defend his position to tell the truth”. He also stated that he believed the TAD’s decision of not opening a “very serious” case against him was a victory in the battle to clear his own name.
Hermoso said the kiss during the medal ceremony was not consensual.
The TAD announced earlier in the day that it considered Rubiales’ actions to be of a “serious” nature, as opposed to being “very serious”. This means that the nation’s High Council for Sport (CSD) is unable to suspend the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) president from his post for the duration of the investigation.
Under a “serious” case, the maximum punishment is a two-year ban, whereas a “very serious” investigation carries a punishment of up to five years. Under the “serious” conduct filing, the CAD cannot provisionally suspend Rubiales, as that is reserved for “very serious” cases. This was confirmed by Spain’s minister of culture and sports, Miguel Iceta, on Friday, who stated during a press conference: “The fact that the court has decided to initiate the file qualifying the infractions as serious, and not very serious, prevents the CSD from suspending Luis Rubiales from his duties.”
Shortly after the TAD announcement, Rubiales released his own statement, where he apologised for “some obvious errors” that were “the product of some great excitement”.
He then continued to defend his stance, stating: “During all this period I have suffered an unprecedented media and political lynching from which I have completely kept out of. Not just on a national level, but globally. Despite that, I have also felt a growing support from people on the streets and social media.”
Rubiales then thanked his supporters in the statement, before adding: “The popular support strengthens in me the idea that this case has been magnified and taken out of context for other motives.
What’s next for Rubiales, his allies, and those who applauded him last week?
“I continue to believe in the independence of the bodies which must resolve this question, despite the political pressure and some media which are so biased that the information about this case has been the object of many manipulations, lies and censorships, but the truth has just one path and that is why I repeat, I believe that justice will be done.
“Today, the TAD has decided to open a case against me. As there is no reason at all, according to the resolution of this body, to find any action as ‘very serious’, the provision suspension called for by the CSD cannot be applied.
“I will continue to defend myself to show the truth. I want to send a message to all the good people of our country and outside our borders, including those women who really have been abused, and have all my support – this is not about gender, this is about truth.
“The name of feminism should not be used to sink a man — or a woman — without a fair trial. Equality means identical rights for everyone.
“Justice should be applied on people without their gender having previously marked the result.
“I feel bad that I have been unfairly judged by media and politicians. This should not happen to anyone again.”
Last Friday, the CSD asked the TAD to begin an investigation into Rubiales, shortly after Rubiales made an aggressive defence of his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final, where he celebrated by grabbing his crotch in the stands, planted a kiss on the lips of Hermoso, and hoisted another Spain player, Athenea del Castillo, over his shoulders during celebrations.
The only consequences Rubiales is currently facing are those imposed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee. He was provisionally suspended for 90 days by FIFA last Saturday, and could still face further punishment.
That suspension means Rubiales can no longer serve his position as RFEF president, nor can he fulfil his role as UEFA vice president. His salaries from both positions have been frozen.
If FIFA does not take further action, Rubiales could possibly resume his post as RFEF president when the football governing body’s suspension expires — on Friday, November 24. Although it is understood that the RFEF will not allow Rubiales to return, even if he doesn’t face a further FIFA ban.
Having already called on Rubiales to resign, the RFEF’s regional presidents could next ask for a motion of censure against him, though sources close to the situation describe that as unlikely to happen any time soon.
Another option would be to elect a new permanent president quickly, by moving up elections currently scheduled for the second half of 2024. If the RFEF makes a request to the Spanish government, these could be held in the first half of next year.
Luis Rubiales: The man at the centre of a scandal watched by the world