Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales holds player Athena del Castillo next Spain Won the Women’s World Cup Australia (David Gray)
The president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, who is under fire for kissing a women’s World Cup player on the lips, is a former attacking midfielder who later became president of the FIFPro.
The controversial 46-year-old is facing calls for his resignation after he kissed superstar Jennifer Hermoso on the head and forcefully kissed her after Spain’s victory. England 1-0 in the final on Sunday in Australia.
Born in the Canary Islands, Spain but raised in Motril on the country’s Mediterranean coast, Rubiales played for several lower division teams before ending his football career in 2009 at Scottish club Hamilton Academical.
Former Levante coach Manolo Preciado once said of Rubiales, who played for Valencia between 2003 and 2003: “He was a very modern and physically strong defender. He loved attacking. He was always an example of dedication and loyalty with everyone.” 2008.
At Levante, Rubiales led a players’ revolt against unpaid wages and may have inherited a taste for public life from his father, who served as the socialist mayor of Motril in the mid-1990s.
The team went on strike and the players eventually got paid, a success that likely emboldened him to fight for his colleagues in the Spanish Footballers’ Union, which he chaired between 2010 and 2017.
Under his leadership, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) called national players’ strikes – in 2011 and 2015 – and oversaw the creation of a fund to cover unpaid salaries. He also persuaded La Liga to agree to pay AFE a percentage of the TV rights.
– ‘A sure win’ –
His first confrontations with La Liga president Javier Tebas began during this period, and continued when Rubiales was elected president of the Football Association in 2018.
Tebas once said he felt Rubiales was “unqualified” for the job.
Rubiales defeated Juan Luis Larrea, former federation treasurer and interim president, in the election to become president.
Larrrea took over the position temporarily after the long-time president of the federation, Angel Maria Villar, was suspended on suspicion of embezzlement and other wrongdoing.
“I will definitely win,” Rubiales, a divorced father of three, told reporters before the vote.
Shortly after his election, Rubiales surprisingly sacked Spain coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the start of the 2018 World Cup.
Re-elected president of the federation in 2020, Rubiales has angered the traditionalists of Spanish football by expanding the Spanish Super Cup competition between the league champions and the Copa del Rey winners into a four-team format.
He also faced significant backlash for signing a lucrative deal to play the competition Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaWhich is often accused of human rights violations.
– ‘Lies’ –
In 2022, Spanish media published leaked audio recordings from 2019 indicating the existence of a company called Kosmos owned by a previous company. Barcelona Defender Gerard Pique demanded millions of euros in commission over the transfer of the Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.
Rubiales denied the allegations, calling them “lies” and saying he was “extremely angry that information was illegally stolen from his mobile phone”.
Meanwhile, Rubiales has won praise for increasing the federation’s number of sponsors and revenue, and improving conditions for lower division teams, which has won the support of the regional football federations.
“He has brought about a radical change. He has put the foundation of the 19th century into the 21st century,” Oscar Flay, president of the football federation of the north-eastern region of Aragon, told Radio Marca last year.
Rubiales tripled the women’s football budget to 406 million euros ($439 million) in 2022, but at the same time sided with women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda when 15 international players rebelled last year over the coach’s methods.
The bet paid off as the team won the Women’s World Cup, but the way Rubiales celebrated put his job on edge.