Barcelona Luis Rubiales’ tenure at the RFEF began with great controversy and ended in disgrace. In the summer of 2018, when he had just reached the position of president, he dismissed the men’s coach Julen Lopetegui a few hours before the start of the World Cup in Russia when it became public that the coach had already signed a contract with Real Madrid Now, he has been forced to resign because of his unconsented kiss to Jennifer Hermoso and his sexist attitudes at the World Cup ceremony after the world of sports – especially women’s football – public opinion World Cup and Spanish political officials have pressured him to take the step during three frantic weeks in which Rubiales has held on to the position. He also resigned as UEFA vice-president yesterday.
What will happen to his praetorian guard?
Rubiales is gone, but the vast majority of his Praetorian guard remain in office. In fact, the only one who has had to leave his position because he has been dismissed is the women’s coach, Jorge Vilda, one of those who applauded his speech during the extraordinary assembly of the RFEF held to discuss the matter and in which Rubiales refused to resign. On the other hand, Luis de la Fuente, his namesake of the men’s team, remains in his chair despite the fact that he also applauded. It is the same case with the Catalan Andreu Camps, the general secretary and who has been Rubiales’ right hand.
The sports director of the men’s team, Albert Luque, also continues at the RFEF – who said in an interview that “men have always liked football more than women” to justify the small presence of women in the stands the Spanish Super Cup played in Saudi Arabia—, another of the resigned president’s confidants. And, without going any further, the current interim president, Pedro Rocha, was the only one of the vice-presidents of the RFEF whom Rubiales did not dismiss before the extraordinary assembly with the intention that he would be his possible successor. Instead, another person related to Rubiales, the director of the presidential cabinet Chema Timón, made his position available and has been replaced by Elvira Andrés.
Will anything change in the RFEF? Will there be elections?
It seems difficult that there will be a structural change in the RFEF while all these names continue to be part of the highest body of Spanish football. But this may change with the upcoming elections, which the Sports Council (CSD) is already considering. “The Spanish government wants the structural changes to be carried out and for elections to take place in the RFEF within the deadline and in the appropriate manner”, said the president of the CSD, Víctor Francos, to Cadena SER, after the resignation of Rubiales .
According to the statutes of the RFEF, the board of directors must now be constituted as a management committee and call elections, a procedure that the Spanish Federation has already announced has begun. Now, the RFEF will have to decide who is the president of this management committee. But the winner of these elections would have a very short term, as it would end in the last four months of 2024, the date that under normal conditions should have ended Rubiales’s. Then, elections will have to be held again, according to the statutes. In any case, there is an alternative: that Pedro Rocha, with the approval of the CSD, hold on as interim president until January and, at that time, elections are called without the need to call them again a few months later .
Will the new president earn the same as Rubiales?
The general assembly of the RFEF on May 30, 2022 approved that the salary of the president of the RFEF rise to 675,761.87 gross euros with 83 votes in favor and one abstention. No one voted against. Thus, this was the financial amount that Rubiales received from the highest body of Spanish football last year, taking into account that the change had a retroactive nature. The basic salary was to be updated every year according to the CPI. But, according to a royal decree of 1991, the salary assigned to a president of a Spanish sports federation ends with his mandate. Therefore, whoever is elected as the new president of the RFEF will have to propose the same or a new salary to the general assembly and obtain at least half plus one of the votes for it to be approved.
What will happen with the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia?
The most controversial project of Rubiales’ mandate at the RFEF has been to bring the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. Previously, the tournament had already been played outside of Spain for the first time in history in the 2018 edition, when Barça won it in Tangier against Sevilla. But the big change would come in the 2019-2020 season. Rubiales signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia, with Gerard Piqué’s Kosmos company as an intermediary, so that it would play there with the participation of four teams (until then only two played it) in exchange for between 30 and 40 million euros per year.
The agreement was extended in June 2021, when the Spanish leader signed with this absolutist monarchy until 2029. To move forward with this project was not an impediment, for example, that in the democratic index prepared by The Economist Saudi Arabia appears as the seventh most authoritarian regime in the world.
Will the farewells of Rubiales and Vilda be enough for the world champions to return to the national team?
After Rubiales’ shocking speech in the assembly in which he did not resign, there was a unanimous reaction from the players in which they reported that they would not return to the national team until the top leaders at that time in the RFEF they did not leave their positions and there were structural changes. It remains to be seen whether this request will be met with the resignation of RFEF president Luis Rubiales and the removal of women’s coach Jorge Vilda, or whether the world champions will request more changes. At the moment, none of them have referred to the subject after these two news and on September 22 there is a match against Sweden belonging to the Nations League in which the new coach, Montse Tomé, should make her debut.
Will Rubiales be convicted?
Rubiales now has three sources due to the events in Australia: the criminal track, the “serious” sanctioning file opened by the Administrative Court of Sport (TAD) and the disciplinary file opened by FIFA and which has temporarily suspended while processing it. The criminal process has gained a lot of strength after Jennifer Hermoso denounced Rubiales before the Prosecutor’s Office of the National Court last week for the kiss without consent and for the subsequent flogging to which she was subjected, as she explained in her statement. Subsequently, the Prosecutor’s Office denounced Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion. If convicted, the penalty for the first offense ranges from one to four years in prison. In the second case, it ranges from a fine of 12 months to three years in prison.
The Prosecutor’s Office has requested that a statement be taken from Rubiales as the investigated and Hermoso as the victim, in addition to consulting the Australian authorities (where the events took place) for “the typification in its substantive criminal rules of crimes against sexual freedom”. In this sense, the police of the state of New South Wales, to which Sidney belongs (the stage of the World Cup final), has already informed that it will help the Spanish authorities. “We have not yet received a report. But, if we do, the officers will contact the international authorities and provide assistance where necessary,” the New South Wales police told AFP.
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