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FIFA suspends Spanish soccer federation president over conduct, unwanted kiss

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(SYDNEY) — FIFA announced Saturday that it has suspended Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales while a committee investigates his behavior at the Women’s World Cup final, including kissing a player on the lips.

Rubiales refused to resign from his position at an emergency meeting on Friday. He had been expected to leave under intense pressure from the Spanish government, players, soccer clubs and officials.

Spain beat England 1-0 to take home the World Cup title.

“FIFA reiterates its absolute commitment to respect the integrity of all persons and therefore condemns with the utmost vigour any behaviour to the contrary,” the organization said in a statement.

Rubiales has also been prohibited from contacting Jennifer Hermoso, the player he kissed without her consent, directly or through third parties. He has been removed from soccer duties for 90 days “pending the disciplinary proceedings opened” against him Thursday.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee will not provide any further information on these disciplinary proceedings until a final decision has been taken,” FIFA said.

The incident had drawn widespread outrage with players from around the world who condemned Rubiales’ behavior.

“I’m disgusted by the public actions of Luis Rubiales. I stand by @Jennihermoso and the Spanish players. Winning a World Cup should be one of the best moments in these players’ lives but instead it’s overshadowed by assault, misogyny, and failures by the Spanish federation,” U.S. soccer player Alex Morgan said in a tweet.

In a joint statement, the players of the Spanish national team expressed their “strong and firm condemnation of behaviors that have undermined the dignity of women.”

“Given the statements made by the president of the RFEF, Jennifer Hermoso wants to emphasise that she did not give consent to Mr. Luis Manuel Rubailes Bejar to kiss her during the World Cup Final,” the team said. “No woman should find herself being doubted in this kind of sensitive situations, even more when there is such undeniable TV footage that has been viewed globally, and certainly, they should not be involved in non-consensual actions.”

The players also said they “expect a strong response from the public authorities so these actions do not go unpunished.”

Hermoso has pushed back against claims from Rubiales that the kiss was consensual.

“I want to clarify that, as seen in the footage, I never consented to the kiss he gave me, and of course, I never intended to lift the president in the air. I do not tolerate that my word is distrusted, and even less so, the invention of words I never said,” Hermoso said in a statement.

She added, “We ask the RFEF to implement the necessary protocols and to ensure the rights of our players and adopt exemplary measures. It is essential that our national team is represented by figures that project its values of equality and respect in all areas.”

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