Spanish Federation President Luis Rubiales has been suspended by FIFA, from all soccer-related activities, Reuters reports.
He is suspended for three months as the world football governing body, investigates allegations of an unwanted kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s women won the World Cup.
Rubiales’ suspension from national and international activities takes immediate effect, world soccer’s ruling body said in a statement released on Saturday.
This is in accordance to the action taken by its disciplinary committee chief Jorge Ivan Palacio.
FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday over his actions last Sunday in Sydney. Rubiales said he would defend himself to prove his “complete innocence”.
Rubiales, 46, has been defiant over the kiss – which has been condemned as unwanted by Hermoso, her team mates and the Spanish government – arguing it was consensual.
Earlier on Saturday the federation he heads had said it would stick by him.
After the FIFA statement, a spokesperson for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said: “We respect all the pronouncements of FIFA.”
In a statement through the federation, Rubiales said: “Luis Rubiales has stated that he will legally defend himself in the competent bodies, he fully trusts FIFA and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defence so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven.”
Gary Lineker, a former England and Barcelona player, summed up much of the public reaction to the FIFA move, posting in Spanish on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Por fin! (At last).”
Feminist groups had staged demonstrations in Madrid, Santander and Logrono on Saturday calling for his resignation.
Rubiales refused on Friday to resign, seeking to defend his behaviour and calling the kiss “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.
Hermoso said she did not consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression”.
In a statement hours before FIFA’s move on Saturday, the federation said it would show there had been lies told about what happened by Hermoso or people speaking for her.
The statement, issued on the RFEF website, said it would take appropriate legal action to defend Rubiales’ honour, but did not say what the action would consist of.
The Spanish government cannot fire Rubiales but has strongly denounced his actions and said on Friday it was seeking to get him suspended using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal.
Rubiales played mainly in Spain’s second division in a career spanning 12 years.
When he was elected to lead the RFEF in 2018, he promised to modernise its structure, increase turnover and make the federation more transparent.