The governing body of European football heads to its annual awards gala in Monaco on Thursday, amid unrest caused by its Spanish vice-president.
Luis Rubiales will not attend the high-profile ceremony in Monte Carlo where the awards for best player and coach are presented as he has been suspended by FIFA, the sport's supreme governing body. Spain could win the awards in women's football.
FIFA has suspended Rubiales, who is both president of the Spanish Football Federation and vice-president of European Football Association UEFA, for at least 90 days. FIFA is investigating the kiss he forced on women's world champion Jenni Hermoso and the lingering consequences of his overall behavior at the final in Sydney, Australia.
UEFA has remained publicly silent in the ten days since Rubiales caused an uproar in Spain and elsewhere, later fueled by his defiant refusal to resign.
Even after FIFA officially opened disciplinary proceedings on Thursday, UEFA did not say whether it had taken action against Rubiales, who earns €250,000 ($270,000) a year as the organisation's vice-president.
“No solidarity,” former England striker Ian Wright said of UEFA in a social media post, using a swear word to express his dismay at the way the organization is treating women's football. “These are the same people who are responsible for the future of women's football.”
On Thursday, either Aitana Bonmati or Spain's Olga Carmona is expected to be named the 2022-23 European Player of the Season. The other candidate is Australian striker Sam Kerr.
Bonmati's season ended as a world champion, winner of the Golden Ball for best player at the Women's World Cup and champions league winner with Spanish football club Barcelona. But it started when 15 internationals signed a letter saying they no longer wanted to play for Spain coach Jorge Vilda because he was damaging their mental health.
Vilda kept his job with Rubiales' support but he now risks being sacked by the federation's interim leadership ahead of the UEFA ceremony. He is one of the three candidates for the women's football coaching award.
VIEW | Spain women's team won't play until Rubiales resigns:
Coaches from leading clubs and national teams in women's football as well as the media voted on the awards. The candidates were announced on Friday when Rubiales refused to step down at an emergency meeting of the Spanish FA. FIFA suspended Rubiales the next day, ordering him and the federation not to contact Hermoso over concerns about their confrontational tactics, including threats of legal action.
Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez and England coach Sarina Wiegman – the only woman nominated in this category – take on Vilda for the UEFA Coaching Award. The event will also host the Champions League draw.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin is expected to take the stage at the ceremony to present a personal lifetime achievement award to former German star Miroslav Klose.
However, Ceferin will not answer questions about the Spanish question. Separately, the Spanish FA are leading a UEFA-backed bid to host the 2030 World Cup with Portugal, Morocco and possibly Ukraine.