Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Champions League spots hang in the balance amidst the unfolding Luis Rubiales scandal, as per reports from Spain. In an astounding turn of events this past Monday, the Spanish FA has issued an urgent plea to UEFA, imploring them to assess the possibility of expulsion. This request stems from the Spanish government’s involvement in the ongoing World Cup ‘kiss-gate’ saga, where Luis Rubiales, a high-ranking official kissed Spain’s football sensation, Jennifer Hermoso, on the lips without her consent.
Should this request get approval, the ramifications would be far-reaching. It would entail the exclusion of all Spanish clubs from UEFA tournaments, a move that would cast a shadow over not only football titans like Real Madrid and Barcelona but also impact Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad in the Champions League, Villarreal and Real Betis in the Europa League, and Osasuna in the Europa Conference League.
The stakes for Spanish football clubs in European competitions have been put into uncertainty due to the controversial remarks made by Spanish FA chief Andreu Camps, who criticized the Spanish government’s involvement in the ongoing scandal surrounding President Rubiales. This scandal erupted after Rubiales kissed Jennifer Hermoso and engaged in inappropriate behavior in the royal box alongside Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia. Camps, often described as Rubiales’ closest confidant, now finds himself at the center of this storm.
According to reports from Onda Cero, supporters of Rubiales within the Spanish FA(RFEF) have launched a serious campaign against the government’s call for Rubiales to step down. They argue that such interference contradicts UEFA’s principle that its members must manage their affairs independently, free from external influence.
Interestingly, UEFA has remained notably silent on this matter, possibly due to the personal friendship between its president, Aleksander Ceferin, and Rubiales. As of now, UEFA appears to have no immediate plans to take action against the Spanish teams in response to this controversy going on.
The responsibility now falls on RFEF’s interim president, Pedro Rocha, who must decide whether to uphold Camps’ threat to UEFA or retract it. Furthermore, he faces the decision of Camps’ continued tenure in his position.
To address this escalating crisis, RFEF has convened an “urgent and extraordinary” meeting scheduled for Monday to decide on Rubiales’ status. Despite widespread calls for his resignation, Rubiales remains defiant, asserting that the kiss was “consensual,” a claim contradicted by Hermoso.
FIFA has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales, suspending him for three months from national and international football related activities as a result of its sexual violence protocol being activated.
While the Spanish government lacks the power to dismiss Rubiales, it has strongly condemned his actions and is pursuing legal avenues to secure his suspension through a sports tribunal. Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz is set to meet with representatives from FUTPRO, the women’s players’ union representing Hermoso, and the Association of Spanish Footballers on Monday to ensure the footballing sector fosters conditions free from sexist violence.
Maria Jesus Montero, acting budget minister, expressed her view that Rubiales should not return to lead Spanish football, citing his dishonesty and failure to grasp the importance of gender equality in sports.