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FIFA suspends suspends Spanish soccer chief over kiss

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FIFA on Saturday suspended Spanish federation chief Luis Rubiales from all soccer-related activities for three months as it investigates allegations of an unwanted kiss on the lips of player Jenni Hermoso after Spain’s women won the World Cup.

His suspension from national and international activities takes immediate effect, world soccer’s ruling body said in a statement about the action taken by its disciplinary committee chief Jorge Ivan Palacio.

FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on Thursday over his actions last Sunday in Sydney. Rubiales said he would defend himself to prove his “complete innocence”.

Rubiales, 46, has been defiant over the kiss – which has been condemned as unwanted by Hermoso, her team mates and the Spanish government – arguing it was consensual. Earlier on Saturday the federation he heads had said it would stick by him.

After the FIFA statement, a spokesperson for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said: “We respect all the pronouncements of FIFA.”

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In a statement through the federation, Rubiales said: “Luis Rubiales has stated that he will legally defend himself in the competent bodies, he fully trusts FIFA and reiterates that, in this way, he is given the opportunity to begin his defence so that the truth prevails and his complete innocence is proven.”

Gary Lineker, a former England and Barcelona player, summed up much of the public reaction to the FIFA move, posting in Spanish on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Por fin! (At last).”

Rubiales played mainly in Spain’s second division in a career spanning 12 years. When he was elected to lead the RFEF in 2018, he promised to modernise its structure, increase turnover and make the federation more transparent.

Feminist groups staged demonstrations in Madrid, Santander and Logrono on Saturday calling for his resignation.

Rubiales refused on Friday to resign, seeking to defend his behaviour and calling the kiss “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.

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Hermoso said she did not consent to the kiss and felt “vulnerable and the victim of an aggression“.

In a statement hours before FIFA’s move on Saturday, the federation said it would show there had been lies told about what happened by Hermoso or people speaking for her.

The statement, issued on the RFEF website, said it would take appropriate legal action to defend Rubiales’ honour, but did not say what the action would consist of.

The Spanish government cannot fire Rubiales but has strongly denounced his actions and said on Friday it was seeking to get him suspended using a legal procedure before a sports tribunal.

In a joint statement sent via their FUTPRO union on Friday evening, all 23 of Spain’s cup-winning squad including Hermoso, as well as 32 other squad members, said they would not play internationals while Rubiales remained head of the federation.

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In the same statement, Hermoso denied Rubiales’ contention that the kiss was consensual, writing: “I want to clarify that, as was seen in the images, at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and, of course, in no case did I seek to lift the president.”

‘LEGAL ACTIONS’

In its statement early on Saturday, the federation said: “The RFEF and the president, given the seriousness of the content of the press release from the FUTPRO Union, will initiate the corresponding legal actions.”

“The RFEF and the president will show each of the lies that are spread either by someone on behalf of the player or, if applicable, by the player herself,” it said.

The statement was accompanied by four photos of the event last Sunday that it said illustrated Rubiales’ contention that Hermoso lifted him by the hips.

Reuters could not immediately reach an official from FUTPRO for comment.

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Two of the women’s team’s sponsors expressed support for the players on Friday.

Iberia, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAG.L), said: “When offensive situations occur, inappropriate for a developed, modern and egalitarian society such as Spain’s, Iberia supports the appropriate and pertinent measures that must be taken to preserve the rights and dignity of athletes.”

Power company Iberdrola (IBE.MC) was quoted by Spanish news agency EFE as saying: “We observe with great concern the situation which has developed in the past few days which has tarnished the great victory of the national team.”

Rubiales had been widely expected to resign at the federation’s emergency meeting on Friday. Instead he said repeatedly that he would not quit and complained that “false feminists” were “trying to kill me”.

Acting Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz called his speech “unacceptable”. She wrote on social media: “The government must act and take urgent measures: impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office.”

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Gender issues have become a prominent topic in Spain in recent years. Tens of thousands of women have taken part in street marches protesting against sexual abuse and violence.

The Socialist-led coalition government has presided over legal reforms including around equal pay, abortion, sex work and transgender rights.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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