Luis Rubiales ‘forcefully kissed’ England’s Lucy Bronze at Women’s World Cup final

The former Spanish Football Federation president has denied the allegations, which emerged from English Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt in a Fifa disciplinary report

Lawrence Ostlere
Thursday 07 December 2023 09:24 GMT
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Luis Rubiales leaves court as judge gives former FA president restraining order

Luis Rubiales “forcefully kissed” England’s Lucy Bronze and “cupped and stroked” her teammate Laura Coombs at the Women’s World Cup final, the English Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt has claimed.

The allegations have emerged in a Fifa disciplinary report into the actions of Rubiales, who was handed a three-year ban from football in October.

The report said Rubiales had acted with “a sense of complete impunity” at the Spain v England match on 20 August in Sydney. He grabbed his genitals in celebration of Spain’s victory while stood in the VIP area and kissed midfielder Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the medal presentation. Hermoso has said she did not consent to the kiss.

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‘ conduct was criticised by the report

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’) behaviour was inexcusable and unacceptable, especially considering his high rank within the football ecosystem at the time.”

Rubiales resigned as the president of Spanish football on 10 September, 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.

Additional reporting by AP

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