Former Spanish FA chairman Luis Rubiales accused of 'inappropriately touching' England players

6 December 2023, 20:07

Disgraced ex-Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales
Disgraced ex-Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales. Picture: Alamy/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The former head of the Spanish FA has been accused of "inappropriately touching" the Lionesses by England's own Football Association chief.

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Debbie Hewitt's allegations were made public after new documents were released regarding Rubiales' three-year ban from involvement in football that was imposed by Fifa.

Rubiales allegedly touched the women on the "same podium" upon which he is accused of sexually assaulting Jenni Hermoso when he kissed her after Spain's Women's World Cup win.

Rubiales labelled Hewitt a "hypocrite" and said she had done her role as FA chairwoman a "disservice".

FA Chair Debbie Hewitt
FA Chair Debbie Hewitt. Picture: Alamy

Hermoso filed a sexual assault complaint over the kiss by the former Spanish FA boss after the women's World Cup final.

The player insists the encounter during the trophy presentation last month was "non consensual", which Rubiales has repeatedly denied.

Read More: Ex-Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales handed restraining order

Read More: Former Spanish football boss Luis Rubiales banned from the sport for three years for Women's World Cup kiss

Spain's coach, Jorge Vilda, had remained in his role despite most of his coaching staff resigning in protest against federation following the kiss on August 20 - but was later sacked.

The Spanish FA has said it was "embarrassed" by the actions of Mr Rubiales.

Spanish football kiss scandal - how it unfolded

Jenni Hermoso (10 Spain) is kissed by president of the RFEF Luis Rubiales
Jenni Hermoso (10 Spain) is kissed by Rubiales. Picture: Alamy

August 20 - Rubiales, who had earlier been filmed grabbing his crotch in celebration of Spain's 1-0 victory over England in the World Cup final while standing alongside Spain's Queen Letizia and 16-year-old Princess Infanta Sofia in the VIP box at Stadium Australia, kisses forward Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony.

Hermoso is later heard in a social media post saying she "didn't like" the kiss.

August 20 - Later the same night, the RFEF releases a statement on Hermoso's behalf in which she is quoted as saying: "It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup.

The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour with all of us has been excellent and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude."

August 21 - After his behaviour is described as "unacceptable" by Spain's acting culture and sports minister Miquel Iceta, Rubiales issues a video statement apologising for his actions and saying: "There is something I regret, and it was what happened between me and a player, with whom I have a fantastic relationship, just like with the others, where I have certainly made a mistake. I have to admit it."

August 22 - Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez brands Rubiales' conduct "unacceptable" and his apology "not sufficient" during a reception for the victorious players on their return.

The Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) condemns such behaviour as "never appropriate or acceptable".

August 23 - World players' union FIFPRO calls on governing body FIFA to investigate the "deeply lamentable" incident.

August 24 - FIFA opens proceedings against Rubiales over alleged breaches of sections of its disciplinary code covering "offensive behaviour and violations of the principles of fair play". Reports emerge that Rubiales will quit ahead of an emergency meeting of the Spanish football federation's general assembly.

August 25 - Standing before representatives of Spain's regional federations, clubs, players, coaches and referees in Madrid, a defiant Rubiales repeatedly insists he will not resign and accuses "false feminists" of mounting a witch hunt, to applause from sections of the audience.

Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas takes to social media to describe his stance as "unacceptable" and the Spanish government signals its intention to push for his suspension.

August 25 - FUTPRO releases a statement signed by 81 players, including every member of the World Cup-winning squad, indicating their unavailability for the national team while Rubiales remains in post.

August 25 - Hermoso releases a statement accusing the RFEF of presiding over "a manipulative, hostile and controlling culture" and placing her under "continuous pressure to come up with a statement that could justify the act of Mr Luis Rubiales".

August 26 - The RFEF threatens Hermoso with legal action over her comments. Rubiales is later banned "from all football-related activities at national and international level" for an initial period of 90 days by FIFA.

August 26 - Spain women's coaching staff, with the notable exception of manager Jorge Vilda, resign en masse. Vilda later criticises Rubiales' conduct in a statement issued to Marca, saying, "There is no doubt that it is unacceptable and does not reflect at all the principles and values that I defend in my life, in sport in general and in football in particular."

August 28 - Reports in Spain say Rubiales' mother, Angeles Bejar, is on hunger strike after locking herself in a church in protest at her son's "inhuman" treatment at the hands of his critics.

August 28 - The regional heads of Spanish football demand Rubiales' resignation as reports claim the RFEF has asked UEFA to suspend its teams from international competition.

September 5 - Jorge Vilda - the team's coach and an ally of Rubiales, sacked

September 6 - Jenni Hermoso files sexual assault complaint

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