FIFA President Gianni Infantino has addressed the World Cup kiss scandal, marking a significant development in the ongoing controversy. Infantino, the influential figure in football, publicly commented on the incident involving Luis Rubiales, the head of the Spanish football federation, kissing Spanish women’s football star Jenni Hermoso on the mouth during the presentation ceremony following Spain’s victory over England in the Women’s World Cup final. In his response, Infantino stated that such an event “should never have happened” and expressed his disappointment that Rubiales’ actions had marred the celebratory occasion.
Infantino took to Instagram to express his viewpoint on the matter, emphasising the disruption caused by the incident. He voiced his concern not only for the immediate aftermath but also for the subsequent days during which the controversy persisted. His message was clear: the incident was regrettable and should have been avoided altogether.
Despite Rubiales’ assertion that the kiss was consensual, Hermoso, the player involved, maintains that she did not give consent for a kiss on the lips. This conflicting viewpoint has contributed to the ongoing scandal, which has only gained momentum in recent days. Complicating matters further, a new video angle emerged that appears to contradict Rubiales’ claims about the nature of the incident.
FIFA, responding promptly to the situation, initiated disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales on August 24, just four days after the final match. As part of this action, Rubiales was provisionally suspended from all football-related activities at both national and international levels for a duration of 90 days, pending the outcome of the investigation. Infantino affirmed FIFA’s commitment to due process in handling the matter and underlined the importance of maintaining a focus on supporting women’s football, both on and off the field, while upholding the core values of the sport.
Meanwhile, the ramifications of the scandal have led to further repercussions within the Spanish football federation. Jorge Vilda, the coach of Spain’s controversial Women’s World Cup-winning team, faces potential departure as the turmoil engulfs the federation. Over 80 national team players have engaged in protest by striking, demanding a change in leadership within the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) due to Rubiales’ actions. While Vilda initially refrained from stepping down, he later criticised Rubiales’ behaviour as “inappropriate and unacceptable.”
The situation also involves Spain’s men’s coach, Luis de la Fuente, who stood by Rubiales during the controversy. Despite some criticism, de la Fuente is expected to retain his position after leading the men’s team to victory in the UEFA Nations League earlier. As the scandal unfolds, there are reports that the RFEF’s regional presidents have discussed Vilda’s potential departure, though details remain to be clarified after discussions scheduled for the upcoming week.
Pedro Rocha, the interim president of RFEF, emphasised the need for dialogue and understanding in addressing these developments. He stressed that listening and communicating with those involved are priorities before making any definitive decisions. Amid the complexity of the situation, it is evident that the fallout from the World Cup kiss scandal has generated a series of significant repercussions and discussions within the world of football.