25 Aug, 2023 @ 08:08
1 min read

Spain’s football chief Luis Rubiales to quit after causing international sexism storm

Luis Rubiales hugs a player
Julieta Ferrario/ZUMA

BELEAGUERED Spain football chief Luis Rubiales is due today to quit from his role as the head of the country’s Football Federation in the wake of his controversial behaviour on Sunday after Spain’s women’s team won the World Cup final against England 1-0 in Sydney, Australia.  

An international sexism storm broke out this week after Rubiales was first seen grabbing his crotch in an obscene gesture as the final whistle blew at the match, despite standing just metres from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter the infanta Sofia, and then forcibly kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony. 

Rubiales, 46, initially brushed off the criticism for his actions in an interview by calling the controversy ‘bullshit’, tarring his critics as ‘idiots’. However, the pressure forced him into a half-hearted apology, which he delivered via video message. 

The gesture was not enough, and criticism grew over his actions as the week wore on, including from caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who called the behaviour ‘unacceptable’ and the apology ‘inadequate’. 

The global football association FIFA began disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday, while the Spanish Football Federation itself is also probing whether he breached its own sexism protocol. 

Hermoso called on Thursday for ‘exemplary measures’ to be taken against Rubiales for his actions, while on the same day the Spanish government made clear that it would take steps against him should the Federation not do so itself. 

Rubiales, who has served as the chairman of the Federation since May 2018, has long been a controversial figure within the sport. Just two days before the Spain men’s team opening match at the 2018 World Cup he sacked manager Julen Lopetegui, and he is also facing accusations of wrongdoing over a deal to move the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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