FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish football association (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales following incidents at the Women’s World Cup final.

Rubiales has drawn widespread criticism for his actions after Spain beat England on Sunday, with the official kissing striker Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the presentation ceremony and grabbing his crotch in celebration shortly after the final whistle.

The president later apologised in a video message, but has faced calls to resign from several high-profile individuals in Spanish sport and society.

The global players’ union FIFPRO released a statement on Wednesday calling for immediate action to be taken, saying: “it is deeply lamentable that such a special moment … should be stained by the inappropriate conduct of an individual in a role carrying so much responsibility”.

Spain’s High Council for Sports (CSD) has already received complaints about Rubiales and the RFEF has convened an emergency meeting for Friday, but world football’s governing body has now intervened.

A FIFA statement on Thursday read: “ **The FIFA Disciplinary Committee informed Luis Rubiales, President of the Spanish Football Association, today that it is opening disciplinary proceedings against him based on the events that occurred during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August 2023.

“The events may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter.

“FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behaviour to the contrary.”

FIFA’s disciplinary code notes that measures may be taken against for anyone “violating the basic rules of decent conduct” or “insulting a natural or legal person in any way, especially by using offensive gestures, signs or language”.

Rubiales kisses Hermoso after the final (Screengrab/RTVE)

Rubiales had publicly dismissed criticism of his actions, telling Spanish radio station Cope: “We do not pay any attention to idiots and stupid people. It was a peck between two friends celebrating something. (The criticism) is really all just nonsense, (from) dickheads and dumbasses. These are just losers who did not know how to see the positive side.”

“Yeah (it happened), but I didn’t like it,” Hermoso said while watching a video of the incident with her team-mates in an Instagram live broadcast in the dressing room after Spain’s 1-0 win over England.

The RFEF later released a statement to Spanish news agency EFE, which quoted Hermoso as saying she had no problem with what was “a mutual gesture that was totally spontaneous due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup”.

#FIFPRO statement on Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales:

— FIFPRO (@FIFPRO) August 23, 2023

Hermoso, speaking through the Spanish women’s players’ union and her agency on Thursday, said: “My Union FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the intermediaries on this subject.”

One RFEF source, speaking on condition of anonymity as they did not have permission to comment publicly, had told The Athletic on Wednesday that Rubiales, while regretful, had no intention of stepping down. The source claimed that the 46-year-old felt confident in his position despite the backlash and that RFEF officials were set to reiterate their backing for him on Friday.

But pressure has continued to mount on Rubiales, who has been criticised by acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, and culture and sport minister, Miquel Iceta.

President of La Liga side Getafe, Angel Torres, called for him Rubiales to quit on Wednesday, telling Carrusel Deportivo: “He has to resign. This man can’t stay for another minute. There is a 2030 World Cup that already has a damaged image.”

Jokin Aperribay, Real Sociedad president, said on Thursday when asked if Rubiales should step down: “I think it’s clear,” while the club’s manager, Imanol Alguacil, said: “It’s defined in one word and that’s unacceptable.”

The Basque Football Federation said it would not attend the RFEF meeting due the “seriousness of what happened in the trophy presentation after the World Cup final and the subsequent management of events”.

The Athletic has contacted the RFEF for further comment.



Controversy and condemnation after World Cup kiss - Luis Rubiales is no stranger to either

(Photo: Getty Images)