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FIFA opens disciplinary case against Luis Rubiales over forced kiss

(Maja Hitij/FIFA via Getty Images)

FIFA has become the latest to address Spain’s World Cup controversy. The world governing body for soccer has opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales due to his forced kiss of star Jenni Hermoso.

His actions at the World Cup final “may constitute violations” of FIFA’s disciplinary code, per a FIFA statement released Thursday. After the match, which saw Spain claim its first title with a 1-0 win over England, Rubiales grabbed his crotch in celebration, then kissed Hermoso during the trophy ceremony.

“The FIFA disciplinary committee will only provide further information on these disciplinary proceedings once it has issued a final decision on the matter,” the statement read. “FIFA reiterates its unwavering commitment to respecting the integrity of all individuals and strongly condemns any behavior to the contrary.”

FIFA’s disciplinary code allows punishments to be handed out for “violating the basic rules of decent conduct” or “insulting a natural or legal person in any way, especially by using offensive gestures, signs or language.”

While Hermoso initially downplayed the incident, the 33-year-old midfielder reportedly refused to appear alongside Rubiales in his apology video, despite requests from Rubiales and Spain head coach Jorge Vilda. On Wednesday, she called for action in a statement released in conjunction with her agency and the Spanish players’ union.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s acting prime minister, said Rubiales’ apology “wasn’t sufficient,” and another Spanish government official called on Rubiales to resign. Liga F, Spain’s professional women’s soccer league, also called for his resignation.

“One of the greatest feats in the history of Spanish sport was sullied by the embarrassing behavior of the highest representative of Spanish football,” Liga F said in a statement released Wednesday.

Atlético de Madrid became the fourth Spanish soccer club to call for Rubiales’ resignation Thursday, joining Getafe, Real Sociedad and Osasuna.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) has set an emergency meeting for Friday. While a source told The Athletic that Rubiales had no intention to step down, a report from Spanish newspaper MARCA said he now is considering it amid the growing tide of backlash.