ZURICH (AP) — Former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales “seemingly forcefully kissed” an England player on her face before kissing Jenni Hermoso without her consent at the Women’s World Cup, according to English Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt.
A FIFA disciplinary committee report released Wednesday said Rubiales, who was given a three-year ban in October, acted with “a sense of complete impunity” at the trophy ceremony after Spain’s 1-0 win over England in Sydney on Aug. 20.
In a written submission to the committee, Hewitt was quoted saying she watched as Rubiales “cupped and stroked” the face of the England player Laura Coombs.
Hewitt, who was standing next to Rubiales, found the gesture to be “slightly odd and then he seemingly forcefully kissed the English player Lucy Bronze on her face,” the report said.
Rubiales responded in the report by accusing Hewitt of “hypocrisy” because she had also embraced players. He added that Hewitt’s portrayal of him as “some sort of creep is absolutely disgusting.”
The committee said it had considered a more severe sanction after his behavior following the championship final.
Rubiales’ actions after Spain had been crowned world champions prompted a player rebellion and accusations of sexual assault.
“All incidents assessed collectively, appear to reveal a sense of complete impunity on the part of the respondent within the football environment,” the committee said in its written grounds of its decision. “It was absolutely and categorically expected of him to maintain and embody the highest levels of professionalism, beyond the usual standards, especially at a moment where his country was at the apex level of women’s football.
“In this regard, the committee could not stress enough that — regardless of the emotional state he was in during and after the match — (Rubiales’) behavior was inexcusable and unacceptable, especially considering his high rank within the football ecosystem at the time.”
Rubiales resigned as the president of Spanish soccer on Sept. 10, having initially vowed not to stand down.
The committee said it had considered factors such as the reputation of soccer and “more importantly, on (Hermoso’s) mental state.”
“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 (Rubiales’) actions had on the image of FIFA, women’s football and women’s sport in general,” it said.
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