England FA chair: Rubiales forced kiss on Bronze

Sports

England FA Chair Debbie Hewitt, in a FIFA report made public on Wednesday, accused former Spain federation president Luis Rubiales of “inappropriate” conduct with the English players at the 2023 Women’s World Cup medal ceremony.

FIFA said it considered more severe sanctions than the three-year ban it imposed on Rubiales this past Oct. 30, and the issuance of the full report marked the first time Hewitt’s testimony was made public.

Hewitt testified to FIFA 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.

Hewitt, who was next to Rubiales at the medal ceremony, also said that the Spaniard’s tone of voice was “unpleasant and unnecessarily aggressive” with FIFA workers.

The decision to ban Rubiales was taken after FIFA evaluated incidents that included him 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 in the report.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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