Who is Luis Rubiales? Former Spanish FA chief banned for three years over World Cup kiss

Luis Rubiales congratulates Salma Paralluelo  at the World Cup final (Isabel Infantes / PA)
Luis Rubiales congratulates Salma Paralluelo at the World Cup final (Isabel Infantes / PA)

Fifa has banned former president of the Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales from any football-related activity for a period of three years.

After Spain's victory against England in the Women's World Cup final, Rubiales gave forward Jenni Hermoso a kiss on the lips.

Following the uproar caused by the kiss - which Hermoso insists was not consensual - Rubiales resigned from his position in September.

Fifa initially suspended Rubiales pending an investigation into his behaviour, and Hermoso submitted a complaint to the national prosecutor’s office, which is now with Spain’s high court.

Spanish state prosecutors have since filed a lawsuit against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion.

If found guilty, he could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years.

As the world continues to support Hermoso in the aftermath of an act many are calling sexual assault, here is a look at who Luis Rubiales is.

Who is Luis Rubiales?

Luis Rubiales, 46, is a former professional football player, and the former president of the RFEF and vice president of Uefa.

He was born in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, to father Luis Manuel Rubiales Lopez, a primary school teacher, and mother Ángeles Béjar, a hairdresser.

He grew up in the Motril region of Granada before starting his football career. He built his career at clubs like Guadix CF, RCD Mallorca B and Alicante CF, before making his debut in the Spanish top flight in 2004.

In 2009, when he was 32 years old, Rubiales signed a one-year deal to join the Scottish Premier League team Hamilton Academical. However, he announced his retirement soon after and returned to Spain.

In March 2010, the footballer was elected to be the President of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE), a position he held until 2017.

Then, in May 2018, he became the RFEF president, a position he has held ever since, until now.

Recent years have seen corruption allegations being made against the former athlete, with the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial leaking documents and audio files that revealed conversations between Rubiales and footballer Gerard Pique.

In these files, named Supercopa Files, Rubiales is heard negotiating to pay Pique commissions in relation to the Supercopa de España in Saudi Arabia. He asked that he ensure Barcelona and Real Madrid were two of the participating teams in the event.

Rubiales kissed the female athlete without her consent (ES)
Rubiales kissed the female athlete without her consent (ES)

What did Luis Rubiales do at the 2023 Women’s World Cup to spark outrage?

August 2023 saw Spain take home the trophy after defeating the Lionesses in the Women’s World Cup.

During the celebrations, Rubiales kissed Spain’s midfielder Jennifer Hermoso on the lips while presenting her with a medal. Hermoso later revealed that she hadn’t consented to the kiss.

Rubiales was also spotted grabbing his crotch during the game, while Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter were just metres away away in the stands.

Since the incident, the AFE released a statement saying that if he didn’t resign immediately, the association would demand that the Sports Law is applied against him.

La Liga also filed a complaint with the High Sports Council asking for Rubiales to be disqualified. Meanwhile, Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against him and football players across the globe have begun to publicly criticise Rubiales.

He has since quit.