Spanish Soccer Chief Faces Legal Hurdles After Controversial Incident
Luis Rubiales, the head of Spanish soccer, is confronting a series of legal and administrative obstacles stemming from his actions after Spain's victory at the Women's World Cup on August 20. Rubiales faced criticism for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent, an act she described as an unwelcome intrusion and aggression. Despite mounting pressure, Rubiales refused to resign and maintained that the kiss was spontaneous and consensual. However, he now faces multiple challenges:
**1. Potential Criminal Proceedings:** Complaints alleging possible sexual aggression were submitted to the Spanish High Court, as the incident occurred abroad. Prosecutors, however, cannot proceed without the victim's formal complaint. The High Court prosecutor intends to contact Hermoso and inquire whether she wishes to file a criminal complaint. If she does not within 15 days, the pre-proceedings investigation will cease. The offense of sexual aggression carries a prison sentence of one to four years.
**2. FIFA's Response:** FIFA, the world's soccer governing body, suspended Rubiales from all football-related activities for three months. This action was taken under article 13 of FIFA's code, addressing offensive behavior and conduct that tarnishes the sport's reputation. Rubiales aims to use the investigation to prove his innocence.
**3. Spanish Government Involvement:** The Spanish government lacks the authority to directly suspend or remove Rubiales from his position as the president of the Spanish Royal Football Federation (RFEF), a private entity. Instead, the state-run National Sports Council (CSD) sent a dossier of complaints, including those from Spain's women's football league, to the Sport Administrative Court (TAD). The allegations encompass Rubiales' behavior during the final and include charges of abuse of authority and acts that violate sporting decorum.
The TAD convened to decide whether to initiate a case against Rubiales. Its decision could lead to his suspension for the duration of the investigation, pending approval by the CSD executive committee. The sports law in Spain provides the possibility of removal or disqualification from office for a specified period due to serious misconduct. Repeat offenses could result in permanent disqualification from holding office in a sports organization.
In conclusion, Luis Rubiales is grappling with a complex legal situation involving potential criminal proceedings, FIFA sanctions, and actions by Spanish administrative bodies. The outcomes of these challenges will determine the future course of his role in Spanish soccer governance.