Spain’s top co-operative football clubs have issued statements in response to the incident involving the suspended president of the Spain Football Federation, Luis Rubiales.
During the celebrations for the World Cup victory on 20 August, Rubiales, 46, kissed 33-year-old Spanish forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips, an action that she says was not consensual.
World football’s governing body, Fifa, opened disciplinary proceedings to look into the incident on 24 August.
FC Barcelona, owned by over 143,000 members, condemned Rubiales’s behaviour in a statement issued on 25 August, following the extraordinary assembly of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), which decided to let Rubiales continue in his role. During the meeting, Rubiales claimed the kiss was “mutual and consensual” and pledged not to resign.
“After the extraordinary assembly … it appears that the explanation given the president of the Federation, Mr Rubiales, has been sufficient for the members present at the assembly who have the authority to confirm him in his position,” said FC Barcelona.
“FC Barcelona, however, wishes to make clear that it considers totally improper and inappropriate the RFEF president’s behaviour during the celebrations for the World Cup victory achieved by the Spanish Women’s team. The incident we consider to be deplorable and Mr Rubiales himself has admitted it was an error and has apologised.
“In the light of his unjustifiable incident, FC Barcelona remains committed to its policy of supporting women’s sport, equality between men and women in sport and in society in general, and of guaranteeing the safety of women in sport and denouncing any behaviour that violates our principles and statutes.”
A day later, Rubiales was banned by FIFA’s disciplinary committee for an initial 90 days. FIFA also ordered him, the RFEF and its officials and employees not to attempt to contact Hermoso. By Monday, 28 August Spanish Football Federation regional leaders also changed their minds and called on Rubiales to resign.
Real Madrid, which has just under 100,000 members, also responded to the incident, saying it supported the decision to refer the case to the Spanish Sports Council.
“Following the address by the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, to the extraordinary general assembly held today, Real Madrid would like to express the following: Our club fully supports the decision taken by Víctor Francos, the president of the Spanish Sports Council, who will immediately refer this case to the Administrative Sports Court.
“Real Madrid is entirely confident that from now on the actions taken by the relevant competent bodies, in this case the Spanish Sports Council, will be carried out. Our club supports our women’s national football team and would like to reiterate its congratulations on the historic achievement in winning the World Cup, and will continue to work towards the development and growth of women’s football in our country.
“After the extraordinary assembly of the RFEF … it appears that the explanation given the president of the Federation, Mr Rubiales, has been sufficient for the members present at the assembly who have the authority to confirm him in his position.”
Fasfe, the Spanish Federation of Football Shareholders and Members, which campaigns for democratically owned football clubs, criticised the extraordinary assembly for failing to remove Rubiales.
“We are disappointed by what has happened at the RFEF assembly,” it said on Twitter. “Rubiales’ entrenchment in the presidency, his aggressive tone, with which we disagree, and his paternalistic behaviour towards women are symptoms of the serious problem of football governance.
“All our support for our player Jenni Hermoso and her union, the Association of Professional Football Players, in their defence of the dignity of the football player, of women’s football and of equality in our sport.”
In his role with the RFEF, Rubiales was also a vice president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which has not commented on the World Cup incident, a Fifa event.