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FIFA president’s hard-hitting statement on Rubiales’ forceful kiss could mean curtains for Spain football boss

12 days after Spanish football federation head Luis Rubiales kissed footballer Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the post-match victory celebrations of Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s football team, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has ended his silence with a hard-hitting statement. Though FIFA launched disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on August 24 — four days after the FIFA World Cup final in Sydney – Infantino had not made any official comment on the incident that shook the sporting world, sending more than 80 Spain footballers on an indefinite strike and sparked a nation-wide protest.

FIFA president with Spain footballers after World Cup final

Infantino said Rubiales’ act “spoiled” the night of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final and what followed should “never have happened”. “The well-deserved celebrations for these magnificent champions were spoiled by what happened after the final whistle,” Infantino wrote on Instagram. “And what continued to happen in the following days. This should never have happened.”

Rubiales, who was a part of the presentation party in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, was seen grabbing Hermoso’s face and kissing her on the lips before patting her on the back. While Rubiales kissed almost every Spanish female footballer on the cheek as they came for their medals that day, for Hermoso he went a too far.

FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales from all football activities at the national and international level for 90 days, while the investigation continues.

“FIFA’s disciplinary bodies immediately assumed their responsibility and took the necessary actions. The disciplinary proceedings will continue their legitimate course,” added Infantino who was at the trophy presentation after the final.

“On our side, we should continue to focus on how to further support women and women’s football in future, both on and off the pitch. Upholding true values and respecting the players as persons as well as for their fantastic performances.”

Hermoso, on her part, denied that it consensual and slammed Rubiales for making her feel molested. “I want to clarify that at no time did I consent to the kiss that he gave me and in no case did I seek to lift up the president,” Hermoso said in the Futpro statement.

Spain’s controversial coach Jorge Vilda may be asked to quit

Meanwhile, Spain’s controversial Women’s World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda is set to be forced out as the scandal engulfs the Spanish football federation.

Vilda, who last week applauded a speech in which Rubiales refused to resign from his position and railed against “false feminism”, later criticised Rubiales’ “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour.

While the majority of Spain’s coaching staff offered to step down in the wake of the Rubiales incident, Vilda did not, after Rubiales publicly announced the coach was in line for a new contract with a big pay hike.

Reports in Spain on Thursday said the RFEF’s regional presidents had agreed on the need for Vilda’s departure at a meeting Monday, although he is said to want another role at the federation if he leaves his current post.

“We can’t say that (he has been sacked), we haven’t met with Vilda, until next week,” said interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha.

“Once we have, we will explain the relevant news… first we have to listen and talk, that’s the important thing.”

Rocha confirmed Spain men’s coach Luis de la Fuente, who led the team to UEFA Nations League glory in June, would be staying — despite criticism in some quarters after he too applauded Rubiales’ speech.

“Absolutely (staying), he is backed by all the members of the federation,” said Rocha.

“He is a hard worker who is doing wonderfully.”

(With AFP inputs)

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