The disgraced former Spanish Football president Luis Rubiales ‘forcibly kissed’ England defender Lucy Bronze and ‘cupped and stroked’ the face of Laura Coombs after the World Cup final, according to Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt.
Rubiales was given a three-year ban from football in October after kissing Spanish striker Jenni Hermoso on the lips without consent following their victory over the Lionesses.
FIFA has now published their findings into the case against Rubiales, with their disciplinary committee confirming they considered tougher sanctions.
Part of the report includes a summary of a submission from FA chair Hewitt, who claims Rubiales also acted inappropriately towards England’s players and that his actions made her feel ‘deeply uncomfortable.’
The report states: ‘She [Hewitt] was initially standing next to the Respondent in the tunnel, as [they] were being positioned for the medal ceremony. He appeared unhappy as to where he had been positioned in the lineup.
Former Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales has been accused of ‘forcibly kissing’ Lucy Bronze at the World Cup final – the same night he kissed Jenni Hermoso
‘FIFA staff (or stewards) told him to remain where placed and stood around us so that the presentation group could make our way to the stage. The tone of his voice in response was unpleasant and unnecessarily aggressive.
‘She stood directly next to [the Respondent] in the line-up on the stage (…). [He] greeted each [match officials] warmly with a handshake. The England team came up individually onto the stage. [The Respondent] shook the hand of every player and touched a few on the arm as they walked past.
‘He then cupped and stroked the face of the English player Laura Coombs, which [the President of The FA] thought was slightly odd and then he seemingly forcefully kissed the English player Lucy Bronze on her face.
‘As the Spanish players stepped up, [the Respondent] became more boisterous. He was tactile with almost all of them, kissing most on the cheek, and giving some multiple kisses in quick succession and holding them very tightly.
‘He rubbed some on their back, tapped one on her bottom, grabbed some by their arm, lifted several off their feet, and one was hoisted twice. In most cases, [the Respondent] initiated the hugs and physical contact.
Evidence has also shown he also ‘cupped and stroked’ the face of England star Laura Coombs
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‘The hugs were reciprocated but the kisses weren’t. It appeared that some players moved their heads to avoid the kissing. The President of The FA felt deeply uncomfortable and embarrassed.’
The FA has been approached for comment.
Rubiales rejected Hewitt’s accusation, labelling her a ‘hypocrite.’ In his response he argues that the reason he had touched the face of Coombs is because she had been injured in the final and required stitches. Coombs, however, did not play in the final. Alex Greenwood did require stitches after suffering a head injury.
Rubiales response states: ‘It is astonishing to read the amount of prejudice that Ms. Hewitt showed against [the Respondent] which took her, without knowing what he was saying in response, to decide that he was being aggressive.
‘Without providing any evidence. The Respondent feels the need to point out that Ms. Hewitt, hugged several players even after clearly noticing that they were extending their hands to receive a handshake, which applying the same logic she used, could be understood as a forceful non consensual physical contact, or even when greeting the referees, it can be seen Ms. Hewitt touching all of them in their arms, while (the Respondent] limited his interaction to a plain handshake. The hypocrisy is blatant.
‘The Respondent reads the words of the President of The FA with absolute dismay.
The way she presents a gentle gesture of comfort to all the rivals in the final of the WWC, suggesting that [the Respondent] is some sort of creep is absolutely disgusting.
Rubiales has already been banned from football for three years over the Hermoso scandal
‘Also, she either purposely or negligently decides to obviate some of crucial facts, first Ms. Coombs was injured during the final, had to receive stitches and was wearing a bandage in her head, reason why [the Respondent] tried to comfort her, and second Ms Bronze not only plays in Spain, but she was also a super champions in Spain just few months before in which celebration Mr Rubiales obviously participated.
‘This conduct was not denounced when on June 18, 2023, he hugged Mr Luka Modric after the final, precisely for the same reasons he hugged Ms Bronze.
In relation to the Kiss, Ms Hewitt blatantly lies or at least, speaks from ignorance. The evidence presented in this procedure, but also before Spanish courts and reported by the media, confirm that there was an exchanged during which [the Respondent] asked and [the Player] consented.
‘The last paragraphs of her statement are straight forward incomprehensible. First she gives her opinion about the incident in the stands, which she did not witness, or knew about, until reported by the media. Second she misquotes [the Respondent], and proceeds to give her opinion about what happened one week after the final, which, as far as [the Respondent is] concerned, Ms Hewitt is in no position in this procedure to do, and then moves to affirm that [the Respondent] blamed the Player.
The incident surrounding Rubiales and Hermoso marred Spain’s World Cup achievement
‘At no point did [the Respondent] blame the Player, all the explanations of [the Respondent] have been consistent since the very first day, and at no point has he blamed the Player.’
Rubiales, who was also seen grabbing his crotch while celebrating Spain’s victory, resigned as the president of the Spanish Football Federation after weeks of refusing to step down.
In the written grounds of its decision to ban Rubiales for three years, the FIFA disciplinary committee said:
‘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.’
Hermoso has a restraining order against Rubiales in place following the kiss which she claims was not consensual. Rubiales has claimed that it was consensual
The committee’s reasons for Rubiales’ three-year ban included:
- The lack of a public apology
- Rubiales’ continued insistence that the Hermoso kiss was consensual, publicly insulting ‘all those who saw this incident differently’ as ‘idiots and stupid people’
- The publication of a statement on Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) platforms in Hermoso’s name which was not written or authorised by her
- Using the RFEF general assembly as a public forum to defend himself and distort the reality of the kiss in his favour
- Pressuring and ’emotionally coercing’ Hermoso on numerous occasions.
Rubiales is also under investigation by the Spanish courts with state prosecutors accusing him of sexual assault and coercion for his ‘non-consensual’ kiss with Hermoso. Rubiales testified before a judge in Madrid in October that the kiss was consensual.
As well as Rubiales, former Spain women’s manager Jorge Vilda, Albert Luque, director of the Spain’s men’s team, and the Spanish FA’s marketing director are also under investigation for allegedly putting pressure on Hermoso.