The Spanish soccer official who provoked a players’ rebellion and reckoning on gender when he kissed an unwilling star player on the lips at the Women’s World Cup final trophy ceremony was banned for three years on Monday by the sport’s global governing body.
Luis Rubiales’s conduct at the Aug. 20 final in Australia – and his defiant refusal to resign as Spanish soccer federation president for three weeks – distracted many people from the women’s career-defining title win.
Rubiales is now barred from working in soccer until after the men’s 2026 World Cup. His ban will expire before the next women’s tournament in 2027.
Spanish authorities have launched a criminal investigation against Rubiales for kissing Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the team’s 1-0 victory over England in Sydney, and his conduct in the fallout from the scandal.
Spanish prosecutors have formally accused Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion. Hermoso said that Rubiales pressured her to speak out in his defence amid the global furor.
Rubiales denied wrongdoing to a judge in Madrid who imposed a restraining order for him not to contact Hermoso, the record goal scorer for the Spain women’s team.
FIFA has said it was investigating whether Rubiales violated “basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”
In another incident, at the final whistle in Sydney, Rubiales grabbed his crotch as a victory gesture while he was in an exclusive section of seats and Queen Letizia of Spain and 16-year-old Princess Sofia were standing nearby.
A third incident FIFA judges cited to remove Rubiales from office during their investigation – “carrying the Spanish player Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder during the postmatch celebrations” – was detailed in a ruling to explain why he was provisionally suspended.