Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales has been provisionally suspended by world governing body Fifa.
Rubiales has refused to resign after kissing forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win over England in Sydney.
The federation also says it will take legal action over Hermoso’s “lies”.
But Fifa has opted to “provisionally suspend Mr Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities at national and international level”.
In response the Spanish football federation (RFEF) said Rubiales would “legally defend himself”
“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,” the RFEF said.
The statement added that vice president Pedro Rocha Junco has taken on the role of interim president while Rubiales is suspended.
Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings against the 46-year-old on Thursday.
“This suspension, which will be effective as of today, is for an initial period of 90 days, pending the disciplinary proceedings,” Fifa added.
Fifa has also ordered Rubiales or any representative of the federation (RFEF) to refrain from attempting to contact Hermoso, 33.
The RFEF said in an earlier statement it had tried to contact Hermoso, who is Spain’s leading women’s goalscorer with 51 from 101 appearances, but had “been unsuccessful at all times”.
Earlier, a senior figure at the RFEF said he has stepped down from his position.
“I have presented my resignation after seeing that Luis Rubiales continues to head the Spanish federation,” said vice-president Rafael del Amo.
“I owe a lot of things to Luis but what happened in the final is unacceptable.”
Football world welcomes Fifa stance
Anti-discrimination body Kick It Out said it welcomed Fifa’s action but COO Hollie Varney added: “There has been a complete lack of accountability and it is now up to international bodies such as Fifa and Uefa, or the Spanish government, to try and resolve these issues and ask whether those in charge at the Spanish FA are fit to lead.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who played for Spanish club Barcelona, said it was a “disgrace” that Rubiales has “taken all the attention away from the Spanish women’s wonderful achievement”.
Fellow Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright, meanwhile, was critical of the lack of comment from European football’s governing body Uefa, where Rubiales is a vice-president.
“[Fifa’s action is] good. But still silence from Uefa. No solidarity. No comment on the behaviour of their vice-president,” he said.
“Same Uefa whose president did not attend the Women’s World Cup final where both teams represented the region. These are the same people in charge of leading the future of women’s football.”
Aintzane Encinas, who played for Spanish club Real Sociedad for 13 seasons and is now a coach, told the BBC it was time that things changed.
“I think it’s a very, very important moment for Spanish football, and also for world football,” she said.
“Football is an incredible tool for transforming society, to showcase values like respect, ability and equality – we must use it.
“We all stand with Jenni Hermoso – the whole world is speaking out about what’s happening. We are united in this, and that makes me very proud.”
Barcelona manger Xavi Hernandez is among those speaking out. He posted on social media: “I want to give my unconditional support to Jennifer Hermoso and the players. I condemn the behaviour of the president of the Spanish Football Federation.”
A torrid week for Spanish football
20 August – During the ceremony following the World Cup final, Spanish forward Jenni Hermoso is first embraced and then kissed on the lips by Luis Rubiales.
Hermoso later reacts to the kiss during a live stream and says she “did not enjoy” it.
21 August – Rubiales issues an apology saying he is “sorry for those who were offended” after being fiercely criticised by other footballers, the media and even by the Spanish prime minister, some of whom called on him to step down.
24 August – World football’s governing body Fifa opens disciplinary proceedings to examine Rubiales’ actions.
25 August – A defiant Rubiales insists at a RFEF emergency meeting that he will not resign, and calls the kiss “consensual”.
25 August – The Spanish government says it is beginning legal proceedings seeking to suspend Rubiales, with the Spanish secretary of sport saying he “wants this to be Spanish football’s MeToo moment”.
25 August – Later that day, Hermoso releases a statement on Instagram rebuffing Rubiales’ claims, saying that “at no time… was his kiss ever consensual”.
25 August – 81 Spanish players – including all 23 players who went to the Women’s World Cup – announce they will not play for Spain’s women’s team until Rubiales is removed from his position.
26 August – The Spanish football federation says it will take legal action against Hermoso over her “lies” about the kiss.
26 August – Fifa announces it is provisionally suspending Rubiales pending the outcome of its disciplinary proceedings.
In addition to his post as Spanish FA president, Luis Rubiales is also a member of the powerful executive committee of European football’s governing body, Uefa.
Even if Rubiales is eventually removed from his position with the Spanish FA, there is a possibility that he could remain on Uefa’s executive committee until his run is due to end in 2027.
Uefa has offered no public comment about the present situation, but speaking to people who are part of the organisation, there is incredulity from some that Rubiales has not resigned.
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