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Governing Bodies

FIFA suspends suspends Spanish soccer chief over kiss

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FIFA on Saturday suspended Spanish federation chief Luis Rubiales from all soccer-related activities for three months as it investigates allegations of an unwanted kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s women won the World Cup.

His suspension from national and international activities takes immediate effect, world soccer’s ruling body said in a statement about the action taken by its disciplinary committee chief Jorge Ivan Palacio.

FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday over his actions last Sunday in Sydney. Rubiales said he would defend himself to prove his “complete innocence”.

Rubiales, 46, has been defiant over the kiss – which has been condemned as unwanted by Hermoso, her team mates and the Spanish government – arguing it was consensual. Earlier on Saturday the federation he heads had said it would stick by him.

After the FIFA statement, a spokesperson for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said: “We respect all the pronouncements of FIFA.”

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In a statement through the federation, Rubiales said: “Luis Rubiales has stated that he will legally defend himself in the competent bodies, he fully trusts FIFA and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defence so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven.”

Gary Lineker, a former England and Barcelona player, summed up much of the public reaction to the FIFA move, posting in Spanish on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Por fin! (At last).”

Rubiales played mainly in Spain’s second division in a career spanning 12 years. When he was elected to lead the RFEF in 2018, he promised to modernise its structure, increase turnover and make the federation more transparent.

Feminist groups staged demonstrations in Madrid, Santander and Logrono on Saturday calling for his resignation.

Rubiales refused on Friday to resign, seeking to defend his behaviour and calling the kiss “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.

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Hermoso said she did not consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression“.

In a statement hours before FIFA’s move on Saturday, the federation said it would show there had been lies told about what happened by Hermoso or people speaking for her.

The statement, issued on the RFEF website, said it would take appropriate legal action to defend Rubiales’ honour, but did not say what the action would consist of.

The Spanish government cannot fire Rubiales but has strongly denounced his actions and said on Friday it was seeking to get him suspended using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal.

In a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union on Friday evening, all 23 of Spain’s cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as 32 other squad members, said they would not play internationals while Rubiales remained head of the federation.

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In the same statement, Hermoso denied Rubiales’ contention that the kiss was consensual, writing: “I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and, of course, in no case did I seek to lift the president.”

‘LEGAL ACTIONS’

In its statement early on Saturday, the federation said: “The RFEF and the president, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the FUTPRO Union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions.”

“The RFEF and the president will show each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself,” it said.

The statement was accompanied by four photos of the event last Sunday that it said illustrated Rubiales’ contention that Hermoso lifted him by the hips.

Reuters could not immediately reach an official from FUTPRO for comment.

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Two of the women’s team’s sponsors expressed support for the players on Friday.

Iberia, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAG.L), said: “When offensive situations occur, inappropriate for a developed, modern and egalitarian society such as Spain’s, Iberia supports the appropriate and pertinent measures that must be taken to preserve the rights and dignity of athletes.”

Power company Iberdrola (IBE.MC) was quoted by Spanish news agency EFE as saying: “We observe with great concern the situation which has developed in the past few days which has tarnished the great victory of the national team.”

Rubiales had been widely expected to resign at the federation’s emergency meeting on Friday. Instead he said repeatedly that he would not quit and complained that “false feminists” were “trying to kill me”.

Acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz called his speech “unacceptable”. She wrote on social media: “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”

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Gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain in recent years. Tens of thousands of women have taken part in street marches protesting against sexual abuse and violence.

The Socialist-led coalition government has presided over legal reforms including around equal pay, abortion, sex work and transgender rights.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

CAF Executive Committee to meet on Friday

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CAF President Motsepe Fails To Confirm Dates For 2025 AFCON -

Plunged with myriad of issues especially concerning regular fixtures of the Africa Cup of Nations 2025 as well as the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2024 both of which are to be held in Morocco, the  Confédération Africaine de Football CAF Executive Committee  will hold a virtual meeting on Friday.

It is expected that the congested fixtures occasioned by the women’s football event of the Paris 2024 Olympics as well as the enlarged FIFA Club World Cup 2025 will be discussed.

Till now,neither hosts nor period has been allocated for the Women’s Club Champions League which is supposed to be an annual event.

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Governing Bodies

Samuel Eto’o apologises and reinstates Cameroon coach Brys

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Former Cameroonian star forward and now football federation president Samuel Eto’o apologised Thursday to national team coach Marc Brys, with whom he had been involved in a heated exchange this week.

The ex-Barcelona striker also confirmed Brys would remain in his position after it was announced the Belgian was to be replaced as head coach of Cameroon on Wednesday.

“I apologise because during our first unfortunate meeting, there was a lot of emotion… but the Cameroonian people are more important than us, and it is for them that we must work,” said Eto’o at a press conference.

Eto’o was referring to an incident captured on video during his first meeting with Brys, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday.

The pair were seen to engage in a heated argument, before Brys left abruptly.

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“Your mission is not an easy one, despite your qualities and experience, but you should know that you will have our support,” added the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner.

Brys was appointed to the role in April by Cameroon’s sport ministry, much to the astonishment of the country’s football federation (Fecafoot) and its president Eto’o wrote to the ministry to denounce its “illegal” appointment of the 62-year-old.

Fecafoot said it regretted not being involved “closely, nor remotely” in the selection process for the new coach and his staff.

Belgian Brys will now oversee Cameroon’s next two crucial matches in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, against Cape Verde on June 8 and Angola three days later.

-AFP

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Governing Bodies

Footballers warn FIFA of looming strike

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FIFA Completely Opposed To 'blue Cards' -

Players have warned world soccer’s governing body FIFA that they are ready to go on strike over concerns the playing calendar is overloaded, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said.

Maheta Molango, who has been calling for change since February, believes players have reached a breaking point. He says football’s packed schedule endangers players’ health and diminishes the quality of the sport.

“I can tell you a situation not 10 days ago where I went into a dressing room that was directly affected and said: ‘I’m happy to be here and bark a bit, but ultimately it’s up to you. How far do you want to go?” Molango told the BBC.

“Some of them said: ‘I’m not having it, we might as well go on strike. Some said: ‘What’s the point? Yes, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t even have time to spend the money’.

Demands on players have increased in recent years, as tournaments expanded and new competitions emerged, with players and managers criticising that the calendar demanded too many matches.

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“It was not even the union that said it, it was Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. We have reached a point where we cannot rule out any action,” Molango said.

Global players’ union FIFPRO, along with the PFA and the World Leagues Association (WLA), have threatened to take legal action if FIFA continues in this direction.

In a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and General Secretary Mattias Grafstrom, they expressed their concerns over the expansion of the new 32-team Club World Cup.

In response, FIFA denied their claims it had taken unilateral decisions to favour its competitions in the international calendar and would not consider rescheduling the tournament.

“Some of the changes in England with the domestic calendar have been forced by what FIFA and UEFA have done. What has happened is further confirmation that something needs to be done,” Molango said

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“We will always try to exhaust all diplomatic avenues, we have sent a letter, we have received a reply, but unfortunately time is against us. Sometimes between grown-up people, despite trying very hard to find solutions you need a third party to decide, maybe an arbitrator or a tribunal,” he said.

-Reuters

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