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FIFA opens case against Spanish soccer leader who kissed WWC star

FIFA opened a disciplinary case Thursday against Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who kissed a player after the team’s Women’s World Cup victory.

The disciplinary committee will investigate whether Rubiales violated the “basic rules of decent conduct” and if his behavior damaged the sport’s reputation and/or FIFA.

Rubiales kissed Spanish team forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy and medal ceremony on Sunday. Minutes earlier, he had made a triumphant gesture by grabbing his crotch while Queen Letizia of Spain and 16-year-old Princess Sofía were in close proximity.

Hermoso said that she, “did not like it, but what could I do.” She is being represented by the FUTPRO players’ union, which has vowed to ensure the conduct receives due punishment.

“We are working so that the acts like the ones we witnessed don’t go unpunished, are sanctioned, and that pertinent measures are adopted to protect the soccer players against actions that are unacceptable,” the union said in a statement.

Potential sanctions from FIFA’s disciplinary panel could range from suspension to other strong punitive actions.

Spanish Secretary of State for Sports Víctor Francos likewise said in a Wednesday statement that “the gesture of grabbing his testicles in the tribune is a gesture that no one can defend.” Spain is currently bidding to host the next World Cup, and Francos stated Rubiales’ conduct damaged the country’s image.

“(Hermoso) can decide to speak out or not, and whatever she does she will be doing the right thing, because above all we cannot put the responsibility for this on her,” Francos previously stated.

FIFA has yet to announce a calendar for the case, and responded to calls to punish Rubiales that “FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behavior to the contrary.”

The 16-member FIFA disciplinary panel is chaired by Colombian lawyer and former judge Jorge Palacio. The case will likely be judged by three-panel members.

Rubiales had been Spanish soccer federation president for five years and previously headed FUTPRO for eight. The federation has an emergency meeting scheduled for Friday related to the disciplinary case.

(Photo courtesy of Manu Fernandez | AP)


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