The Spanish government suffered a setback in its case against Luis Rubiales, the embattled president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, on Friday.
The government cannot suspend Rubiales amid a case into his post-World Cup kiss with player Jenni Hermoso after a court rejected the argument that the charges against him were “very serious.”
“TAD [Spain’s Sports Administrative Tribunal] only considers the serious [offenses]. We believe that they are very serious,” Spain’s minister of culture and sports, Miquel Iceta, said. “The Superior Sports Council itself could have directly suspended Mr. Rubiales if they were very serious. But as TAD have not qualified it as such, it is up to the court itself. We will file a request for them to take that position.”
Rubiales has claimed his kiss of Hermoso at the Aug. 20 gold medal ceremony in Sydney, Australia was consensual, which Hermoso has denied — adding she felt herself to be a victim of the abuse of power and felt pressure from the federation to support Rubiales.
FIFA has already suspended Rubiales for 90 days while it studies the case, so the Spanish decision will have little immediate effect.
The FIFA suspension, which can be extended for 45 more days, bans Rubiales from his posts as president of the Spanish Football Federation and a vice president of UEFA.
Spain is hoping to remove him independently of the FIFA process.
Iceta said that while the government cannot directly suspend Rubiales, as was its intention, it will ask the legal panel to consider suspending him provisionally.
“We still believe that his acts should be considered ‘very serious’ faults,” Iceta said.
“When the eyes of the world were played on our players, his acts caused damage to our sport and our country that is difficult to repair.”
The legal panel said Rubiales’ behavior would be studied for two possible cases of serious misconduct.
The government hoped the panel would recommend very serious misconduct, a category that would allow the state’s sporting body to ban him provisionally with a view to eventually declaring him unfit to hold the job.
Rubiales can be disqualified for up to two years if found guilty of serious misconduct.
Several Spanish players — men and women — are standing behind Hermoso, while Rubiales’ mother has gone on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of her son.
— with AP