Spanish football federation calls for own UEFA suspension to save Luis Rubiales

  • Spanish football federation (RFEF) is backing under-fire president Luis Rubiales
  • UEFA was asked to suspend RFEF over alleged government interference
  • All Spanish clubs could have been expelled from UEFA competitions this season

RFEF are threatening to tank 11 of their clubs in UEFA competitions & the men's national team just to save Luis Rubiales
RFEF are threatening to tank 11 of their clubs in UEFA competitions & the men's national team just to save Luis Rubiales / Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/GettyImages

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) tried to go nuclear in a desperate attempt to save president Luis Rubiales, who has been suspended by FIFA for 90 days in response to his vile behaviour during Spain's celebrations after the Women’s World Cup final.

Rubiales kissed star attacker Jenni Hermoso on the lips after the victory over England, which the player has since confirmed was most definitely not consensual, despite the president’s claims. Rubiales had also grabbed his crotch during celebrations in the vicinity of Spain’s queen.

Hermoso has commanded an army of support, including the protest resignation of the national team's entire backroom staff, having called out Rubiales for his claims about the kiss that she said were "categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated".

Even unpopular head coach Jorge Vilda, who sat in the audience applauding Rubiales after the 46-year-old vowed to fight what he labelled persecution by "false feminism", was forced to turn on his crony in an act of self-preservation over the weekend when he finally criticised what happened.

But RFEF secretary general Andreu Camps has continued to stand by Rubiales.

The federation took exception to the Spanish government becoming involved in an attempt to sanction Rubiales, with national sports council head Victor Francos having already said he "wants this to be Spanish football's MeToo moment" with regard to the president’s conduct.

"The government starts today the procedure so that Mr Rubiales has to give explanations before the Sport Court and if the Sport Court agrees, I can announce that we will suspend Mr Rubiales from his functions," Francos said on Friday. "There has to be a change. The government wants to warn, to be very clear and say that there are things that can't happen again."

Another government official, acting labour minister Yolanda Diaz, said in response to Rubiales giving his controversial address to RFEF's assembly last week: "What we have seen today in the Federation Assembly is unacceptable. The Government must act and take urgent measures. Impunity for macho actions is over. Rubiales cannot continue in office."

Unbelievably, RFEF's response was to try and self-destruct Spanish football solely for the preservation of Rubiales. In Spain, Onda Cero reported that Camps has requested action from UEFA to protect Rubiales from alleged government interference, which could be construed as a potential breach of UEFA's "good governance principles for associations" guidance.

UEFA statutes, which RFEF could try to use to protect Rubiales, also dictate: "Member Associations shall manage their affairs independently and with no undue influence from third parties. Member Associations shall provide in their statutes for a democratic procedure guaranteeing that their executive body is freely elected and that their other bodies are elected or appointed in a completely independent way. Any body or decision from a body that has not been elected or appointed in compliance with such a procedure, even on an interim basis, shall not be recognised by UEFA."

In a now failed attempt to get the Spanish government to back off, RFEF had asked UEFA to suspend Spain's membership, which would have had dire consequence for Spanish football but potentially served to protect Rubiales from facing external probes into his conduct.

Sky Sports have since reported that UEFA have rejected that request from RFEF. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been in regular contact with FIFA and, given that that the Rubiales incident took place at the World Cup under FIFA jurisdiction, FIFA will deal with it accordingly.

Had RFEF been successful in getting UEFA membership suspended, it would have resuled in the expulsion of all Spanish clubs from UEFA competition this season, as well as the men's national team from ongoing Euro 2024 qualifiers.

That would have meant Barcelona not being able to defend their Women's Champions League title, as well as Real Madrid and Levante being kicked out of the qualifying rounds. Five clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid – would have been expelled from the men's competition, with Villarreal and Real Betis not allowed to compete in the Europa League and Osasuna removed from the Europa Conference League.