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FIFA considered more severe sanctions against Spain’s ex-FA chief Rubiales

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FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 Spain's Jennifer Hermoso celebrates with President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales after the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

FIFA considered more severe sanctions than the three-year ban it imposed on former Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales, world soccer’s governing body said on Wednesday when it published the written reasons for its decision.

Rubiales was banned for three years from all football-related activities on Oct. 30 after kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips, allegedly without consent, following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win over England in August.

Rubiales was also seen grabbing his crotch in the VIP area after the final, next to the Spain’s Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter.

“The Committee wished to stress that it was tempted to impose more severe sanctions in view of the seriousness and gravity of the incidents at stake as well as of the profound negative impact that the Respondent’s actions had on the image of FIFA, women’s football and women’s sport in general,” FIFA said.

It went on to say that with “strong hesitations” the Disciplinary Committee was satisfied that a three-year ban would serve the necessary deterrent effect.

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When FIFA announced the sentence in October, Rubiales said he would appeal and accused FIFA of not giving him the chance to defend himself.

“I will go to the last resort to see that justice is done and that the truth shines through,” he said in a statement via social media.

The Committee said that it could not ignore the impact of Rubiales’ actions on Hermoso’s mental health and her career, and also stated that Rubiales used his position to publish statements using quotes not written or authorised by the player.

The Committee emphasised that such a kiss, from the president of an association towards a player (of the opposite sex) of one of the national teams under his leadership and responsibility was completely unacceptable.

It stated that they were satisfied that there was no agreement between them on a potential kiss and that the player’s behaviour prior to the kiss did not in any way imply that she may want or consent to be kissed.

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The summary said that on several occasions, Rubiales violated the basic rules of decent conduct, used offensive gestures or behaved in a way that brought football into disrepute.

The report also included a submission by Debbie Hewitt, Chair of the Football Association, who said that during the medal ceremony Rubiales cupped and stroked the face of England player Laura Coombs and seemingly forcefully kissed Lucy Bronze on the face.

Rubiales responded to the statement saying that Coombs had been injured and was wearing a bandage on her head which is why he tried to comfort her and that Bronze was Super Cup champion in Spain and Rubiales had participated in the celebration.

FIFA said any party intending to appeal must announce its intention to do so in writing within three days of notification of the grounds of the decision.

-Reuters

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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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