Luis Rubiales savaged by Fifa over Jenni Hermoso kiss scandal

Luis Rubiales savaged by Fifa in Jenni Hermoso kiss scandal
Luis Rubiales savaged by Fifa in Jenni Hermoso kiss scandal

Luis Rubiales has been heavily criticised by Fifa, who said his “victim-blaming tactics” over Jenni Hermoso were “in line with that of perpetrators of sexual abuse”.

The former Spanish football federation (RFEF) president was also accused by Fifa’s appeal committee that upheld his three-year ban of being “in denial” about the nature of the incident which saw him kiss Hermoso on the lips after the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney.

Rubiales had appealed against the three-year ban that was imposed on him by Fifa’s disciplinary committee on Oct 26, and it was announced in January his appeal had been unsuccessful. The written reasons behind the appeal committee’s decision were published on Fifa’s website on Monday.

The document reveals that while making his case during the appeal hearing in Zurich on Jan 16 Rubiales compared the length of his ban to those issued to former Fifa president Sepp Blatter (six years) and former Uefa president Michel Platini (four years), as well as comparing his suspension to Luis Suarez’s four months for biting a fellow player.

The 46-year-old accused Fifa’s disciplinary committee of “interpreting the rules at their convenience, disregarding fact and truth and imposing a sanction completely detached from reality”, as he set out his case for his appeal.

Rubiales, who reiterated he “profoundly regrets” the incidents that occurred in Sydney after Spain’s 1-0 victory over England, claimed he had specifically asked Hermoso if he could kiss her and that she replied “ok then” immediately before their kiss.

According to Rubiales, he “told her to forget about the penalty she had missed”, before Hermoso “replied saying ‘you are the best’”, and then Rubiales “asked, “can I kiss you?” and Hermoso said “pues vale” (’ok then’), and then the kiss occurred.”

Hermoso has repeatedly said she did not consent to the kiss.

A Spanish judge said in January Rubiales should stand trial over the incident, accused of sexual assault, with the judge believing there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Among 37 pages of notes that have been published from the January’s appeal committee hearing with Rubiales, the appeals committee said: “The Committee pointed out that the appellant’s overall behaviour during the present proceedings is regrettably in line with that of perpetrators of sexual abuse who commonly resort to victim-blaming tactics.”

Responding to Rubiales’ claims Hermoso had made light of the kiss on the night, the appeal committee were “convinced that the player ‘downplayed’ the matter so as not to tarnish the celebrations”.

The appeal committee comprised three lawyers, including two male members from the United States and Qatar, alongside one female member from Guatemala, with American lawyer Neil Eggleston chairing the committee. They accused Rubiales of “cherry-picking” evidence to try and suit his argument.

Rubiales has repeatedly claimed Hermoso’s insistence that she did not consent to the kiss is contradictory to how he says she behaved in the immediate aftermath of the final and her initial reaction.

However, the appeals committee was “convinced by the explanations put forward by the player in that she initially tried to play down the incident and/or its direct impact, so as not to distract media and public attention from her and her teammates’ achievements and their first World Cup victory”, and the committee went on to praise Hermoso for her “mature” reaction to being kissed on a global stage.

Rubiales’ ban related to four breaches of Fifa’s disciplinary code. As well as the kiss, he grabbed his genitals in celebration at the final whistle, as well lifting Spain player Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder during the celebrations. He also gave Spain’s goalscorer in the final, Olga Carmona, a “peck”.

The appeal committee concluded the three-year ban did not violate Rubiales’ “human rights” and that its length was “proportionate to the offences committed”.