Rubiales timeline: Charting Spain FA president’s five controversial years in charge


Luis Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), refused to resign on Friday and said he will “fight to the end” after a week of growing pressure following his unsolicited kiss of Spain player Jenni Hermoso.

That Rubiales grabbed Hermoso’s head and kissed her lips without her consent has garnered most of the headlines, but he was also seen effusively hugging other members of the Spanish national team and kissing them on the cheek. Before that, immediately following Spain’s confirmation as World Cup champions, Rubiales was seen grabbing his crotch in a victory gesture, with 16-year-old Infanta Sofia and Queen Letizia of Spain standing nearby.

Rubiales, 46, announced the surprise move — after widespread reports that he planned to quit — in a speech on Friday in which he attempted to justify his behaviour, and lashed out at critics, during an extraordinary meeting of the federation’s general assembly.

His behaviour has been denounced by various sporting bodies and politicians throughout the week, including acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. While Rubiales has increased RFEF revenue and led a bid to bring the World Cup to the country in 2030, his tenure has also been marked by controversial incidents and allegations against him.

Here is a timeline of Rubiales’ five-year tenure as the RFEF president.

May 2018: Elected president of the RFEF

After a career as a professional footballer, mainly spent in Spain but ending in Scotland with Hamilton Academical, Rubiales was elected president of the Spanish Players’ Association (AFE) in 2010. He quit in 2017 to pursue the job at the RFEF, eventually getting elected ahead of Juan Luis Larrea.

Rubiales succeeded Angel Villar, who had left the role following charges of corruption, collusion, embezzlement and falsifying documents.

June 2018: Sacks Lopetegui on eve of men’s World Cup

Just one month into his new job, Rubiales sacked the men’s national team coach, Julen Lopetegui, on the eve of the World Cup in Russia after it was announced that Lopetegui had reached an agreement to become Real Madrid’s manager after the tournament. Fernando Hierro took over for the finals as La Roja lost to Russia on penalties in the last 16.

February 2019: Joins UEFA executive committee

Rubiales was elected to the UEFA executive committee and then was appointed as one of the governing body’s vice presidents in May.

June 2019: Women’s team exit World Cup in round of 16

In their first major tournament since Rubiales was elected, Spain’s women lost 2-1 to the United States in the last 16 of the 2019 World Cup.

January 2020: Wins trial after assault allegations

Rubiales was accused of assaulting an architect in charge of renovating his house in 2019. The case went to court, and Rubiales won. He maintained he had been the victim of harassment from the woman who had pressed charges against him.

September 2020: Reelected as RFEF president

Former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas dropped out of the race to become RFEF president, and Rubiales was reelected unopposed on a new four-year mandate.

October 2020: RFEF launches World Cup 2030 bid

With Rubiales as the visible face of the bid, Spain — in collaboration with Portugal — announced its intention to host the 2030 World Cup. Morocco, and later Ukraine, have since been added to the bid. The desire to bring the World Cup to the country is the main professional link between Rubiales and Prime Minister Sanchez.

July 2021: Men exit Euros in semifinals

After bowing out on penalties at the 2018 World Cup, there was more disappointment for Spain’s men’s team as they lost on spot-kicks in the semifinals to Italy at Euro 2020, which was staged in 2021.

April 2022: Saudi Arabia Super Cup fallout

Leaked audio messages revealed new details on the RFEF’s decision to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. It was first staged in Jeddah in 2020, but it was later divulged how the idea had been developed by Rubiales, former Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique and former King Juan Carlos I.

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Criticism focused on an alleged conflict of interest and the commission paid to complete the deal; Rubiales vehemently denied the accusations.

April 2022: Accused of claiming expenses on rent from RFEF

A report in El Confidencial alleged Rubiales was using RFEF money to pay the rent on his home in Madrid in a breach of regulations. Rubiales said that was “completely false” and that interested parties were behind the accusations.

May 2022: Accused of illicit recordings

El Confidencial accused Rubiales of recording compromising conversations and telephone calls with members of government, dating back to his election in 2018. “We want to make it clear that the president never made any recordings of the president, any minister or any member of [the political party] Podemos,” the RFEF said at the time.

June 2022: Battles with LaLiga chief

Rubiales’ tenure has also seen him in regular conflict with LaLiga president Javier Tebas. Rubiales criticised Tebas for wanting to take LaLiga games to the U.S., though Tebas later pointed out how the RFEF had taken the Super Cup to Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

Things came to a head last year when Tebas said an RFEF official had recorded a private conversation with him. The vice secretary of the RFEF, Miguel García Caba, admitted to the recording, although he said the meeting was set up because LaLiga wanted to “poach” him and he was protecting himself.



Rubiales refuses to resign in dramatic speech to Spanish football federation

Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales delivers a speech in which he refuses to resign despite pressure following his unsolicited kiss of Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup.

July 2022: Women exit Euros in quarterfinals

Spain’s women failed to win a knockout game at a major tournament again, this time beaten by England at the quarterfinal stage of Euro 2022.

September 2022: Allegations of misusing RFEF money for private parties

Juan Rubiales, Rubiales’ uncle and former chief of staff, told prosecutors that private parties, often of a sexual nature, were organised by the RFEF chief with money from the federation. The RFEF denied the allegations and took legal action against Juan Rubiales, which it won.

September 2022: Crisis with the women’s team, backing for Vilda

The way Rubiales and the RFEF dealt with the concerns of 15 players on the Spanish women’s team last September was subject to heavy criticism. The players internally asked for improvements to be made to the structure surrounding the side, a more professional approach and voiced concerns over elements of coach Jorge Vilda’s management style.

Rather than listen to them and be open to change, a statement accused them of applying pressure to the federation, trying to get Vilda sacked and threatened them with bans of up to five years. It added they could only return if they “realised their error and apologised.”



‘Bizarre’ incident involving Spanish FA president ‘tarnishes’ Women’s World Cup win

Alex Kirkland reacts to the incident involving Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales as he kissed midfielder Jennifer Hermoso during postmatch celebrations after Spain’s 1-0 win over England in the Women’s World Cup final.

October 2022: Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal criticism

LaLiga sides Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal demanded an apology from Rubiales after he said they were the three teams he most disliked.

December 2022: Men exit World Cup in last 16

For the second World Cup and third tournament running, Spain’s men lost on penalties in the last 16, this time losing to Morocco. Coach Luis Enrique was released after the tournament, to be replaced by Luis de la Fuente.

December 2022: RFEF continues massive revenue increases

One positive of Rubiales’ tenure is that the RFEF’s revenue has increased significantly since he arrived. In 2018, when Rubiales came into office, annual income was €146m ($158m). By 2022, that increased to €406m. It’s predicted to drop slightly in 2023, to €382m, with last year’s earnings inflated by the men’s World Cup in Qatar.

January 2023: Criticism at Spanish Super Cup

The RFEF were accused by the Spanish Players’ Association (AFE), among others, including Tebas, of disrespecting the women’s game when Barça’s players were made to collect their medals on their own from a table on the side of the pitch after winning the Super Cup. The RFEF argued the same protocol had been applied in the previous men’s Copa del Rey.

March 2023: Players demand resignation for ‘spying’

The AFE then accused Rubiales of “spying” on their president, David Aganzo, in an attempt to hinder their operations. They demanded Rubiales’ dismissal; the RFEF denied the allegations.

June 2023: Collective agreement with women’s national team

Internal dialogue following last September’s crisis surrounding the women’s team led to some changes. Added backroom staff were appointed as part of a more professional setup, and the RFEF agreed to a travel allowance of €15,000 for each player to take their family to the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

Rubiales asserts the amount given by the RFEF was greater than that of any other country, saying England was second with an €11,000 allowance. Three players from the aforementioned 15 returned, five were not selected and seven continue to refuse to play for Spain under the current regime.

June 2023: Spain win Nations League

La Roja‘s men overcame Italy and then Croatia to win the UEFA Nations League in the Netherlands.

Aug. 20, 2023: Rubiales’ celebrations go too far

Rubiales’ behaviour after Spain beat England in the 2023 Women’s World Cup final overshadowed the game. He was condemned for the unsolicited kiss, grabbing his crotch and other incidents. His immediate reaction was to say those criticising him were “idiots.”

Aug. 21, 2023: Apology video

As the criticism grew, Rubiales finally issued an apology. He said he was “sorry to those who were offended” in a video recorded on his own as the Spanish team stopped in Doha on their way back from Australia.

The apology came after Spain’s minister for culture and sport, Miquel Iceta, described Rubiales’ actions as “unacceptable.”

“It seems unacceptable to me,” Iceta told broadcaster RNE. “We’re in a moment of equality, of rights and respect for women. We all have to be particularly careful in our attitudes and our actions. I think it’s unacceptable to kiss a player on the lips to congratulate her.”

Having said she “didn’t like” the kiss during a livestream on Sunday night, Hermoso downplayed Rubiales’ behaviour earlier on Monday, saying the kiss was “no big deal” and blaming “the emotion of the moment.”

Aug. 22, 2023: Pressure builds

Back in Spain, the issue dominated the news. Sanchez said Rubiales’ apology was “insufficient and inadequate.” Acting Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz said he must stand down.

Aug. 23, 2023: Public outcry continues and Hermoso speaks

The pressure continued to mount. Spanish clubs began to call for resignation, with Getafe president Angel Torres saying Rubiales should not stay in the role “for one more minute.” The Spanish Players’ Association, Liga F and FIFPRO also condemned his actions. Later, Hermoso, through her union, FUTPRO, released a statement.

“My union, FUTPRO, in coordination with my agency, TMJ, are taking care of defending my interests and being the interlocutors on this matter,” Hermoso said. FUTPRO said Rubiales’ actions “should never go unpunished.”

Aug. 24, 2023: Inquiry begins

FIFA, through its disciplinary committee, opened disciplinary proceedings for “events that may constitute violations of article 13 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”

Aug. 25, 2023: ‘Going to fight’

Following a meeting at the RFEF’s headquarters in Madrid, Rubiales announced he would not step down as president, lashing out as his critics and defending his actions.

“Do you think this [incident] is so serious that I should go, after the best management in the history of Spanish football?” Rubiales said. “Let me tell you: I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to resign.

“I’ve come under a lot of pressure. Perhaps somebody will look to remove me on Monday. But we live in a country of laws. Is a consensual kiss enough to remove me? I’m going to fight until the end. I hope the law is followed, and that as there’s no reason to [remove me], it won’t happen.”

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