Luis Rubiales: ใครคือหัวหน้า FA ของสเปนที่กำลังเป็นที่ถกเถียงกัน?

Luis Rubiales has made global headlines for kissing Jenni Hermoso – so who is the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president who has courted so much controversy?

There is overwhelming pressure on the 46-year-old – who once played three games in the Scottish Premier League – to resign after the incident following Spain’s win in the Women’s World Cup.

Spain’s government has started legal proceedings seeking to suspend him after he refused to resign at the extraordinary general assembly.

Hermoso says she did not consent to the kiss and the entire World Cup-winning squad have refused to play again until his removal.

But who is Rubiales?

Rubiales, the player

Luis Rubiales
Luis Rubiales played in La Liga for Levante and later led a players’ strike over unpaid wages

Born in 1977 in the Canary Islands, Rubiales – who grew up in the Spanish mainland – had moderate success in his playing career as a defender.

He played lower-league football in Spain for Mallorca B, Lleida and Xerez before helping Levante to promotion and playing 53 La Liga games for them between 2004-05 and 2007-08.

He would lead a players’ strike at Levante over unpaid wages.

Rubiales then played a season for Alicante in the second tier before moving to Scottish side Hamilton Academical.

The full-back, then 32, played three Scottish Premier League matches and one League Cup game for Accies in August 2009, all defeats, and left the club just two weeks after signing. Family reasons were cited in the BBC news story at the time but he in fact retired.

His career ended with a 4-1 defeat at Rangers, with Rubiales setting up Mark McLaughlin’s header with a corner in the final three minutes.

“Billy Reid, the manager, said: ‘Why do you want to leave?'” Rubiales told the Daily Mail in 2018.external-link

“They expected me to ask them to pay up my contract but I told them to just pay me for what I had played, nothing more. They were surprised. They offered me to stay as a scout or on the coaching staff. It was a lovely club.

“Physically I was still in good shape but I left because in Spain there were lots of footballers going through a situation like the one I had gone through [at Levante and Alicante] where clubs were in administration and players were not being paid.

“Every day there were more and more players calling. Xavi Oliva, who was a goalkeeper at Villarreal, told me: ‘Luis, you have to come and be our leader, we need you.'”

Rubiales, the union boss

Rubiales, who would get a law degree after retiring, became the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) president in March 2010.

His time there was relatively controversy free.

However, Tamara Ramos, a marketing and commercial director at the AFE during Rubiales’ reign, recently claimed she left the organisation and sued Rubiales external-linkafter being humiliated on several occasions.

The RFEF released a statementexternal-link criticising Ramos and accusing her of “taking advantage of the current media” climate.

Rubiales held that players’ union role until standing down in November 2017 when he decided to go for the top job at the football federation, where he had been on the board of directors for six years.

Rubiales, the Spanish FA boss

Luis Rubiales
Luis Rubiales handed Andres Iniesta the La Liga trophy soon after becoming Spanish FA boss

He got that job in May 2018 – and made headlines just weeks later.

Rubiales sacked Spain boss Julen Lopetegui just two days before their 2018 men’s World Cup opener after discovering he had agreed to take over as Real Madrid boss after the tournament.

“I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do,” he said at the time.

“I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision.”

Spain, with Fernando Hierro in charge, lost to hosts Russia in the last 16.

At the time that was seen as a political power play, with newly-appointed Rubiales seizing the first opportunity to show that the federation would not be pushed around by anyone – including their most decorated club.

Rubiales would have repeated run-ins with La Liga boss Javier Tebas in another power struggle.

In August 2018, La Liga announced that a Spanish top-flight game would be played in the USA, later decided to be Girona v Barcelona in Miami, as part of a 15-year partnership.

But Rubiales said the deal was done without the permission of the RFEF and refused to authorise it. Barca withdrew the plans.

A year later a bid to have Villarreal v Atletico Madrid in Miami went to the courts, with La Liga losing.

Earlier this year they were locked in another dispute over the repeated racist abuse towards Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr.

Tebas said in a social media message to the Brazil international: “Before you criticise and slander La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly. Neither Spain nor La Liga are racist, it is very unfair to say that.”

But Rubiales told his Brazilian counterpart Ednaldo Rodrigues “to ignore the irresponsible behaviour of the president of La Liga”.

He said “we have a serious behavioural problem, of education, of racism” which requires “a firm response from the federation, but they must let us apply it and so far it has not been the case”.

In February 2019, Rubiales joined Uefa’s executive committee and in May became a vice-president.

In 2021, he was acquitted in a legal case after architect Yasmina Eid-Macchet accused him of assault and non-payment.

Last year, Rubiales would say there was a “campaign to discredit me”external-link and blamed the “mafia”, adding: “I cannot guarantee that one day they will put a bag of cocaine in the boot of my car.”

That came after hackers released stolen audio recordings from Rubiales and other officials, accusing them of a conflict of interest with then Barcelona defender Gerard Pique’s company in a deal to play the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia – something the Spanish FA chief denies.

Of the human rights controversies about hosting the games in Saudi Arabia, Rubiales said: “We are doing a lot here on an ethical level, helping women in football.

“The other questions are political questions, outside football. Some critics invent things, sitting at home, without knowing what really happens here. We can’t expect a society to change overnight – but girls can play football here in Saudi Arabia, and that is thanks to the Spanish federation.”

Rubiales and Spain’s women’s team

And in September 2022 he backed coach Jorge Vilda and not the players in a huge dispute that has never really ended.

The RFEF released a statement saying 15 players submitted emails saying they would not play for Vilda unless “significant” concerns over their “emotional state” and “health” were addressed.

But the players denied asking for him to be sacked. Rubiales stood by the coach, though, and only three of those 15 players were in the World Cup squad.

After Spain’s semi-final win over Sweden this summer, Vilda said: “The support of Luis Rubiales and everyone at the federation means so much and will always stay with me.”

Rubiales said on Friday: “Jorge Vilda, they wanted to do to you the same thing that they are doing to me now. We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve been together.”

Vilda may have survived a players’ revolt – and led them to World Cup glory this summer – but Rubiales’ time may be numbered with a total of 81 players saying they will not play for Spain while he remains in charge.


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