If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has found himself in hot water. The guy’s been stealing headlines for all the wrong reasons, chiefly his unsolicited kiss with Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup. Amidst calls for his resignation, even from the government itself, what’s the real story behind this polarizing figure?
Rubiales the Athlete
Born in the sunny Canary Islands in 1977 but raised on the mainland of Spain, Luis Rubiales first gained attention for his skills on the pitch rather than off it. He wasn’t exactly a superstar, but he had a decent run, primarily as a defender.
Before rising to La Liga prominence, Rubiales hustled in Spain’s lower leagues, suiting up for Mallorca B, Lleida, and Xerez. Eventually, he found his way to Levante, where he participated in 53 La Liga games from 2004 to 2008 and even led a strike over players not getting their paychecks on time.
Rubiales then did a stint with Alicante in the second tier, followed by a curious cameo in the Scottish Premier League with Hamilton Academical. His Scottish adventure lasted just three matches and a single League Cup game — all losses — and he bid farewell to the club, and ultimately, to his career as a player. His final match was a 4-1 drubbing against Rangers.
According to Rubiales, he left because he wanted to focus on helping players back in Spain who were facing financial difficulties with their clubs.
Union Leader Rubiales
Upon hanging up his boots, Rubiales did a complete 180 and got himself a law degree. He then assumed the presidency of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) in March 2010. During his tenure, he managed to steer clear of major controversies, although a former marketing director at the AFE, Tamara Ramos, has recently claimed mistreatment under his leadership.
RFEF’s Controversial Captain
Rubiales ascended to the throne of the Spanish Football Federation in May 2018 and didn’t waste any time stirring the pot. Just weeks into the job, he gave the boot to the then-Spain boss, Julen Lopetegui, two days before the start of the men’s 2018 World Cup, all because Lopetegui had inked a deal to manage Real Madrid post-tournament.
His tenure has been further marred by repeated conflicts with La Liga head Javier Tebas. The most public spat was over plans to hold a La Liga match in the USA, which Rubiales vehemently opposed. The courts sided with Rubiales, thwarting La Liga’s overseas ambitions.
In another contentious moment, Rubiales publicly rebuked Tebas over his comments dismissing allegations of racism against Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr.
And who can forget his time on the Uefa’s executive committee and his elevation to vice-president, not to mention surviving a legal battle in 2021 over accusations of assault and non-payment.
A Tumultuous Relationship with Spain’s Women’s Team
Rubiales has also been a polarizing figure in the realm of women’s football. Last September, he sided with coach Jorge Vilda amid internal disputes with the players, some of whom declined to represent Spain until their concerns were addressed. Despite these internal struggles, Spain’s women’s team triumphed at the World Cup. However, Rubiales’ own victory lap was cut short due to the current allegations, with 81 players declaring they won’t play for Spain under his leadership.
So, there you have it. Luis Rubiales — a man of many hats and equally numerous controversies. Whether you view him as a villain, a hero, or something in between, one thing’s for sure: his name won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and probably for all the wrong reasons.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Luis Rubiales
Who is Luis Rubiales?
Luis Rubiales is the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and a former professional football player. He has been a controversial figure due to various incidents, including the recent one involving an unsolicited kiss with Jenni Hermoso.
What is Luis Rubiales known for?
He is primarily known for his leadership roles in Spanish football, first as the president of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) and currently as the head of the RFEF. He gained significant media attention for firing Julen Lopetegui right before the 2018 Men’s World Cup and for conflicts with La Liga boss Javier Tebas.
Why is Luis Rubiales considered controversial?
Rubiales has been involved in a number of controversies ranging from his firing of Spain’s men’s national team coach to conflicts over La Liga matches being held in the USA. Most recently, he faced pressure to resign after an incident involving a non-consensual kiss with Jenni Hermoso, following Spain’s win in the Women’s World Cup.
What are some of the key moments in Rubiales’ playing career?
Rubiales played in Spain’s lower leagues for teams like Mallorca B, Lleida, and Xerez before moving to La Liga with Levante. He was involved in 53 La Liga matches and led a players’ strike over unpaid wages. He also had a brief stint in the Scottish Premier League.
How did Rubiales become the president of the RFEF?
After retiring from professional football and earning a law degree, Rubiales became the president of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) in 2010. He left the AFE in November 2017 and ran for the presidency of the RFEF, winning the position in May 2018.
What is the current status of Rubiales following the Jenni Hermoso incident?
After the incident with Hermoso, Rubiales is facing immense pressure to resign. Even the Spanish government has initiated legal proceedings to suspend him. Currently, 81 players have declared they will not play for Spain as long as he remains in charge.
What was his involvement with Spain’s Women’s World Cup team?
Rubiales backed the team’s coach, Jorge Vilda, in a dispute with the players over their “emotional state” and “health.” Despite this turmoil, the team went on to win the World Cup, although Rubiales’ role in the federation is now under serious scrutiny.
More about Luis Rubiales
- Luis Rubiales’ Wikipedia Page
- The Spanish Football Federation Official Site
- Jenni Hermoso’s Official Profile
- BBC Sport: Spain fires Julen Lopetegui
- ESPN: Luis Rubiales and La Liga Boss Javier Tebas Clash Over USA Game
- The Guardian: Spanish government initiates legal proceedings against Luis Rubiales
- UEFA’s Executive Committee Members
- Inside World Football: The rise and controversies of Luis Rubiales
- Marca: Players refuse to play for Spain under Rubiales