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There’s a Pablo Zabaleta-shaped gaffe in the BBC’s Spanish FA boss coverage

Luis Rubiales (front right), photo Ministerio de la Presidencia. Gobierno de España (Pool Moncloa/ J.M.Cuadrado)

Comic and film producer Omid Djalili appears to have spotted a major gaffe in the BBC’s coverage of Spanish FA chief Luis Rubiales, and it looks a lot like former Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta.

The comedian was among eagle-eyed Twitter users to spot what appears to be a clip of Zabaleta included in coverage of the suspended FA chief’s ongoing battle over his inappropriate, and unwelcome, full kiss on the lips, delivered to an unconsenting Jennifer Hermoso following the Spain women’s team’s World Cup Final win over England last weekend.

The weekend bulletin, delivering an update on the Rubiales situation as the Spanish FA called an emergency meeting over the growing scandal around its president, featured the now all-too-familiar shots of Rubiales planting his full kiss on Hermoso’s lips, as well as him making a far from edifying groin-thrusting gesture during a game.

It then cuts to footage, which appears to be from a FIFA event around the Qatar 2022 World Cup, of what looks suspiciously like the decorated Man City full back rather than the embattled Spanish FA chief.

The BBC’s Zabaleta/Rubiales mix up

In the BBC’s defence, the two men do look strikingly similar, and even this lifelong City fan had to take several looks to be sure the mix up was for real. The Beeb itself now seems to have dismissed any lingering doubts: “A production error meant we showed the wrong image in an earlier broadcast. This has now been rectified,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter (or X) users seized on the opportunity for a good dig.

Others questioned the wisdom of the BBC’s choice of mix up, given Zabaleta’s no-nonsense, physical playing style:

FIFA is currently pushing for Rubiales to be banned from all football for as long as 15 years following the incident, and had threatened to ban Spain’s national teams and elite clubs from international competition if the Spanish FA refused to accept their punishment of Rubiales after it initially appeared to stand by its chief.

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