Spain's soccer chief Luis Rubiales is temporarily suspended after World Cup kiss

Spanish Royal Football Federation president Luis Rubiales gives a press conference on Nov. 19, 2019 at Las Rozas football sports city near Madrid.

Oscar Del Pozo / Oscar Del Pozo

FIFA on Saturday suspended the head of Spain’s soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, following allegations that he forcibly kissed a player during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony.

The suspension will bar Rubiales from all soccer-related activities at both the national and international levels for the next 90 days while a disciplinary committee reviews the incident.

The Spanish Soccer Federation confirmed on Saturday that Rubiales and the federation have been notified of the suspension. The soccer chief, who has adamantly denied wrongdoing, said he plans to defend himself.

“He fully trusts FIFA and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defense so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven,” the federation said in a statement.

The temporary removal comes after growing calls for his resignation. On Friday, players from the Spanish national women’s soccer team vowed not to play again until Rubiales and other leaders step down.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respect the integrity of all persons and therefore condemns with the utmost vigor any behavior to the contrary,” the governing body wrote in a statement on Saturday.

The global governing body for soccer said Rubiales’ conduct may have violated its Disciplinary Code.

The kiss, broadcast live around the world, took place on Sunday after Spain had won its first-ever Women’s World Cup in Sydney. During the tournament’s medal ceremony, Rubiales tightly hugged star forward Jennifer Hermoso. He then pulled her head toward his face and planted a kiss on her lips — which Hermoso later said she did not give consent to.

Spain’s government announced it also opened its own proceedings against Rubiales, adding that if the country’s Sport Court rules that Rubiales violated laws or regulations, it could declare him unfit to hold office at the federation.

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