Although Luis Rubiales finally stepped down as the Spanish national soccer federation (RFEF) president on September 10, the fallout since he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain’s Women’s World Cup trophy win last month has been unrelenting.
The latest turn was Rubiales’ high court appearance on Friday, where a judge summoned him to testify in response to the allegations facing him—sexual assault and coercion. The result was a restraining order placed on the 46-year-old.
Here’s a timeline tracking the main events, from the women’s team’s competitive zenith to life after Rubiales’ exit. Beyond removing the spotlight from a historic sporting achievement, the fiasco has been widely influential; it’s laid Spain’s national soccer governance bare and sent a ripple effect across Spanish society.
The Kiss And Reaction
August 20, 2023
Spain outclasses England to win the Women’s World Cup final—its first—by a 1-0 scoreline at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia. During the procession before the trophy lift, Rubiales forcibly kisses Hermoso on the lips. “I did not enjoy it,” Hermoso later remarks on the incident via social media. Rubiales also momentarily grabs his crotch while celebrating near Queen Letizia of Spain and her daughter in the stands.
August 21, 2023
Hermoso’s words seem to confirm the kiss was non-consensual. Another statement on Hermoso’s behalf calls it a “mutual, totally spontaneous” gesture of “affection and gratitude” following the team’s triumph—although this was possibly falsely manufactured. After dismissing criticism and echoing those sentiments, Rubiales publicly apologizes.
August 22, 2023
Spain’s acting (and now incumbent) prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is not convinced by Rubiales’ apologies. “I even think they are inappropriate, and, therefore, Mr. Rubiales needs to continue taking steps to clarify what we all saw,” he reacts.
August 23, 2023
Pressure mounts on the RFEF, which continues to defend Rubiales amid calls for his punishment. Among the other figures to have denounced Rubiales is Liga F (Spain’s top women’s division) president Beatriz Álvarez and Miguel Galán, who heads CENAFE, the country’s training center for coaches. FIFPRO, representing soccer players worldwide, encourages world governing body FIFA to take action. Hermoso calls for “exemplary measures” against the president in a new statement with her union and agency.
August 24, 2023
FIFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales. Some reports, like this (Spanish) from the national outlet El País, say Rubiales will resign the next day. A Diario AS article poses two eventual outcomes: Rubiales steps down or is banned. The body ultimately punishing him, plus how and when, remains unclear with various parties and jurisdictions surrounding the case.
August 25, 2023
Rubiales refuses to resign. Hermoso confirms she didn’t consent to the kiss. Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias, who has two caps for La Roja, quits international soccer in protest. Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini criticizes the player’s decision.
August 26, 2023
FIFA provisionally suspends Luis Rubiales from his role for 90 days. Rubiales remains defiant. Spanish women’s players resign, indicating they will not represent the national side with Rubiales at the helm. The coaching staff steps aside, too—apart from first-team manager Jorge Vilda.
August 27, 2023
The RFEF holds an emergency meeting and opens an internal investigation into Rubiales’ actions. Vilda speaks out against Rubiales’ improper behavior, which, by now, has clouded the tournament-winning campaign.
August 28, 2023
Regional soccer presidents ask Rubiales to resign. As a result, Rubiales faces unified resistance within the RFEF for the first time. Mass protests ensue in Madrid, the Spanish capital, with placards showing the words se acabó—it’s over, or ‘that’s enough’ as it indirectly translates. In protest over her son’s treatment, Rubiales’ mother, Ángeles Béjar, locks herself in a church and reveals she’s going on a hunger strike.
August 29, 2023
As the soccer chief refuses to back down, the United Nations Human Rights office backs Hermoso. Amid the noise, there is still support for Rubiales in Motril, Granada, where he comes from—but the backing is isolated and outnumbered, with the backlash against him clear. To help defend himself, Rubiales sends FIFA a video showing Hermoso and some teammates laughing about the kiss on the team’s coach after the final (Spanish), as La Vanguardia reports.
August 30, 2023
UEFA president Alexander Ceferin condemns Rubiales, describing his behavior as “inappropriate,” while La Liga chief Javier Tebas labels him a “madman” for his actions during the final. Reports say Rubiales’ mother had to visit a hospital on the third day of her hunger strike.
August 31, 2023
Multiple outlets now report Rubiales’ uncle, Juan Rubiales, siding with Hermoso and calling out his nephew.
September 1, 2023
Spain’s national sports tribunal (TAD) opens a case against Rubiales, which it considers a “serious” rather than a “very serious” offense. Luis de la Fuente, Spain’s men’s first team coach, apologizes for applauding Rubiales during a speech in which he refused to resign. Rubiales continues defending himself, saying he’s suffered a “political and media lynching” since the final.
It Gets Worse For Rubiales
September 2, 2023
Spain’s government asks the tribunal to suspend Rubiales.
September 3, 2023
By now, it’s become clear the Rubiales fiasco has initiated a widespread feminist movement protesting sexual inequality in Spanish society.
September 4, 2023
Spain’s senior men’s team jointly condemn Rubiales.
September 5, 2023
The RFEF publishes a written statement signed by stand-in president Pedro Rocha apologizing for Rubiales’ “totally unacceptable behavior”, saying “the damage caused to Spanish soccer and Spanish sport, as well as soccer and sport’s values, has been enormous.” The federation fires Vilda from his first-team coach duties.
September 6, 2023
Hermoso submits a legal complaint, accusing Rubiales of sexual assault.
September 7, 2023
Ex-Spain and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is the next high-profile star to slam Rubiales, while Hermoso refocuses on club soccer with her team Pachuca in Mexico.
September 8, 2023
Spanish prosecutor Marta Durantes Gil files a high court complaint for sexual assault and coercion against Rubiales.
September 9, 2023
Surrounded by the chaos and under pressure to perform, Spain’s men’s team returns victorious from a European Championship qualifying match with Georgia. Meanwhile, women players from the domestic Liga F are poised to strike for better wages—with their salaries dwarfed by professional men’s players.
September 10, 2023
Rubiales publicly announces his resignation during an interview with broadcaster and journalist Piers Morgan. It comes three weeks after the World Cup final and ends a five-year stint. “Yes, I have to do it because I cannot continue my work,” he says. The full interview airs two days later.
September 11, 2023
As the soccer world digests this development, questions remain over how the Spanish game progresses from this juncture.
September 12, 2023
Rubiales is due in court on September 15 to testify in relation to the unsolicited kiss he gave Hermoso.
September 13, 2023
Atlético Madrid president Enrique Cerezo (Spanish) offers an impartial take on the matter. “I don’t know who has to apologize to whom,” he comments, as reported by COPE.
September 14, 2023
Rubiales gets ready for his court appearance. Hermoso is among the 16 women shortlisted for the FIFA Best Women’s Player Award 2023.
September 15, 2023
A judge imposes a restraining order on Rubiales from Spain’s High Court in Madrid. Its conditions state the former RFEF president cannot communicate with Hermoso nor be closer than 200 meters to her. Rubiales denies any wrongdoing. Demanding structural changes within the setup, Spain’s women’s players continue their boycott against the national side, postponing the squad reveal for the games with Sweden and Switzerland. The inquest into Rubiales’ actions continue.