The Women’s World Cup win for Spain was a momentous occasion but the joy on and off the field was soon sullied by the leader of the country’s football federation, Luis Rubiales, when he kissed star player Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony.
By defiantly refusing to step down as fury over the incident mounted, he only exacerbated the controversy, prompting a strike by over 80 members of the Spanish national team.
Here is a timeline of everything that has happened in the Rubiales scandal so far:
August 20, 2023: Luis Rubiales Kiss
Rubiales kisses Spain player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy and medal ceremony on Sunday after the country’s 1-0 win over England in Sydney, Australia.
Moments earlier, Rubiales grabbed his crotch as a victory gesture in the exclusive section of seats with Queen Letizia of Spain and 16-year-old Princess Sofía standing nearby.
Hermoso has said she did not like the kiss and the national players’ union representing her — which Rubiales once led — called for his conduct to not go unpunished.
August 21, 2023: Rubiales apologises for kiss
Rubiales apologised for kissing Hermoso after having previosuly decribing his crictics as ‘idiots’.
“It was done without any ill intention in a moment of the highest exuberance. Here we saw it as natural and normal but outside it has caused a commotion.”
“I have no choice but to apologise and to learn from this... and when representing the federation take more care,” he said.
August 22, 2023: Hundreds of people protest against Rubiales
Hundreds of people take to the streets protesting against Rubiales and offering support to Hermoso with the quote “Se Acabo” (It’s over), a term used by her teammate Alecia Putellas to support her on social media.
August 22, 2023: Spain PM criticises Rubiales
Pedro Sanchez, the acting Prime Minister of Spain, criticised Rubiales for his behaviour after the Women’s World Cup final.
“I think the apology Mr. Rubiales has given wasn’t sufficient, I’d say it wasn’t adequate, and Mr. Rubiales should keep taking further steps ... The RFEF isn’t a part of the Spanish government,” PM Sanchez said.
August 23, 2023: Hermoso calls for ‘exemplary measures’ against Rubiales
“My union FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and has taken over as my interlocutors on this matter,” Hermoso said in a joint statement released by the union and her agency.
“We are working to ensure that acts such as those we have seen never go unpunished, that they are sanctioned and that the exemplary measures are adopted to protect women footballers from actions that we believe are unacceptable.”
August 24, 2023: FIFA opens case against Rubiales
FIFA opens a disciplinary case against Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales. The football body’s disciplinary committee will weigh if Rubiales violated “the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.”
August 25, 2023: Rubiales refuses to resign
Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), refuses to leave his office, despite rumours of his resignation.
“I will not resign, I will not resign,” he said in a general assembly called by the RFEF. “A social assassination is taking place. I’m ready to be vilified to defend my ideals. I don’t deserve this manhunt I have been suffering,” he added.
August 26, 2023: Spanish women’s team quits
In a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union, all 23 of the cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as 32 other squad members, said they would not play internationals while Rubiales remains head of the RFEF.
August 27, 2023: Vilda condemns Rubiales’ behaviour
Spain women’s coach Jorge Vilda and men’s coach Luis de la Fuente criticised the behaviour of Rubiales on Saturday, after 81 players went on strike and the majority of his coaching staff offered to resign.
August 26, 2023: FIFA provisionally suspends Rubiales
FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee provisionally suspends Spanish Rubiales for 90 days. It also ordered Rubiales and RFEF officials and employees alike to refrain from contacting or attempting to contact Hermoso or those around her.
August 28, 2023: Spain prosecutors open preliminary sex abuse probe
Prosecutors at Spain’s top criminal court said on Monday they had opened a preliminary investigation into Luis Rubiales’ forcible kiss on the lips of World Cup player Jenni Hermoso on grounds it could constitute a crime of “sexual assault”.
August 28, 2023: Mother of Rubiales starts hunger strike
The mother of Rubiales under fire for kissing a Women’s World Cup champion on the lips started a hunger strike in defence of her son.
August 28, 2023: Spanish FA asks UEFA to suspend RFEF from international competitions; backs Rubiales to continue
The Spanish football federation, RFEF, has asked UEFA to suspend it from international competitions because of government interference over demands to remove its beleaguered president Luis Rubiales from office.
The move was widely seen as an attempt to silence some of Rubiales’ critics, including government ministers who have asked for his remova
August 29, 2023: Spain govt. sends Rubiales paperwork to sports tribunal
Spain’s government had submitted further paperwork to a specialist sports tribunal examining its complaints against scandal-hit football chief Luis Rubiales.
The complaints were lodged on August 25 by the National Sports Council (CSD), which is under the Ministry of sports, after Rubiales forcibly kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal-giving ceremony.
August 31, 2023: Rubiales’ close aide Vilda set to be sacked
Jorge Vilda, the coach of its World Cup-winning women’s team, is set to be sacked after he refused a request to resign, a federation source told Reuters on Thursday.
A new board constituted after the suspension of RFEF president Luis Rubiales by FIFA over an allegedly unsolicited kiss he planted on a player’s lips has agreed to work on terminating coach Vilda’s contract, the source said.
The board is also negotiating with players of the women’s team who have gone on strike over the incident for their return.
September 1, 2023: De la Fuente apologises for applauding Rubiales speech
Spain’s men’s team coach Luis De la Fuente apologised for applauding Luis Rubiales’ speech last week in which he said he would not resign as RFEF president.
“I have to say sorry, I made a mistake, it’s inexcusable,” said De la Fuente.
(with inputs from AP, Reuters)
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