State prosecutors formally accused former soccer president last week of sexual assault
Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish soccer federation, has been given a restraining order and is prohibited from contacting the player he kissed on the lips last month at the Women’s World Cup, Spain’s National Court said Friday.
Rubiales appeared in front of Judge Francisco de Jorge and denied any wrongdoing when questioned about kissing Spain player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony, the state prosecutors’ office said.
After hearing Rubiales, the judge issued the restraining order that prohibits Rubiales from being within 200 metres of Hermoso. The state prosecutors had asked for that ban to reach 500 metres.
The judge rejected the prosecutors’ request to also oblige Rubiales to check in with a court every 15 days as well as the request by Hermoso’s lawyer to freeze assets belonging to Rubiales.
Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips after Spain beat England to win the Women’s World Cup title on Aug. 20 in Sydney, Australia. He said she had consented to the kiss, but Hermoso has denied that repeatedly.
Spanish state prosecutors formally accused Rubiales last week of sexual assault and an act of coercion. According to Hermoso, Rubiales pressured her to speak out in his defence immediately after the scandal erupted.
The state prosecutors’ office said Rubiales denied both accusations when answering questions by the judge in an hour-long hearing that was closed to the public.
Neither Rubiales or his defence lawyer, Olga Tubau, spoke to the media outside the National Court.
Hermoso’s lawyer satisfied with hearing
Hermoso’s lawyer, Carla Vall i Duran, said they were satisfied with the hearing.
“We can continue to affirm that the kiss was not consented to, which is what we have said from the very beginning,” Vall i Duran said. “Thanks to the [images of the kiss], the entire world, the entire country, has been able to observe there was no type of consent. And we are going to prove that in the courtroom.”
The 46-year-old Rubiales finally folded Sunday under immense pressure from government and soccer authorities and announced that he was resigning from his post as president of the soccer federation. He he had already been provisionally suspended by soccer governing body FIFA.
De Jorge is carrying out the preliminary investigation into the accusations against Rubiales, and will then decide whether the case should go to trial.
According to a sexual consent law passed in Spain last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty of sexual assault. The new law eliminated the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault,” sanctioning any non-consensual sexual act.
Hermoso had already given testimony to state prosecutors when she accused Rubiales of sexual assault last week, before she left Spain to join her Mexican club, Pachuca.
In the days following the World Cup final, Rubiales said that the kiss was “mutual” and like one “I could give one of my daughters.”
Hermoso responded by saying that was a lie.
“I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part,” Hermoso said in a statement posted on social media. “Simply put, I was not respected.”
Boycott maintained, coach delays picking her squad
The new coach of Spain’s women’s team has had to delay the announcement of her first squad after nearly all of the country’s World Cup-winning players maintained their boycott of the national team.
Spain coach Montse Tome was set to announce her squad on Friday. But the federation said it was postponed to a time to be determined.
Spain’s women have had little chance to celebrate their greatest soccer achievement because the now former president of the Spanish soccer federation caused an uproar when he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips at the awards ceremony in Sydney on Aug. 20.
Earlier this month, the Spanish soccer federation fired women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda amid the controversy involving Rubiales. The coach was among those who applauded Rubiales when he initially refused to resign despite facing widespread criticism for kissing Hermoso on the lips without her consent.
Montse Tome was appointed as Vilda’s replacement, making her the first woman to hold the job. She had been one of Vilda’s assistant coaches since 2018.
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