UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has described the behaviour of Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales as “inappropriate” – but called for FIFA’s investigation to be allowed to run its course.
Rubiales has refused to quit for kissing Spain player Jenni Hermoso after their World Cup final win over England on August 20.
All of Spain’s 23 World Cup winners, plus another 58 players, have said they will not represent their country until Rubiales has left his post.
Rubiales, 46, was provisionally suspended by world governing body FIFA on Saturday for an initial period of 90 days pending an investigation into his conduct in Sydney after Spain’s victory.
The president grabbed his crotch in the stadium’s VIP area in celebration, when he was stood metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter.
Ceferin, head of Europe’s governing body, feels the full disciplinary process must be allowed to be completed without added distraction, but admits change must follow.
“I am a lawyer and one of the vice-presidents of FIFA. His case is in the hands of the disciplinary body of the international federation. Any comments I might make would feel like pressure,” Ceferin told French media outlet L’Equipe in his first public comments since the incident.
“I just have to say that I am sad that such an event overshadows the victory of the Spanish national team.
“We should change things. I had a meeting today with Laura McAllister (vice-president of UEFA) to find ways to change the way we behave. We must do more.”
Ceferin added: “Of course, what he did was inappropriate. We all know it. I hope he knows that was inappropriate.
“This is enough for the moment because the disciplinary committee will decide.”
In his current role with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Rubiales is also a vice-president of UEFA.
Ceferin said: “He is suspended from all his functions, everywhere. There is no need to suspend it twice.”
🔴 Comunicado oficial de la Comisión de Presidentes Territoriales de la RFEF.
— RFEF (@rfef) August 28, 2023
Rubiales and the RFEF have also been ordered not to contact Hermoso either directly or through intermediaries.
Hermoso has accused the RFEF of a “manipulative, hostile and controlling culture” and said Rubiales’ kiss was “an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part”.
The Spanish Football Federation is also reportedly considering whether it has grounds to sack World Cup-winning head coach Jorge Vilda, who is still in the post after most of his coaching staff resigned in protest against Rubiales.
The president was applauded by Vilda after repeatedly insisting that he would not quit at the RFEF’s extraordinary general meeting last Friday. The federation is said to be exploring options over whether they can sack the head coach.
The RFEF regional heads have also called for Rubiales’ resignation, while members of the Spanish government have added their voices to those demanding he step aside.
On Monday, Rubiales’ mother Angeles Bejar announced she was going on hunger strike over the “inhuman” treatment of her son and locked herself in a church in Motril.
According to Spanish media outlet Marca, the priest of the Divina Pastora parish confirmed Rubiales had convinced his mother to leave the church and seek medical treatment at hospital, with her feet swollen and also suffering from fatigue.