Football federation boss Luis Rubiales could face charges after kissing a female player
Spanish soccer player Jenni Hermoso has formally lodged a criminal complaint against the head of the country’s football federation, Luis Rubiales, whom she accused of sexual misconduct after he kissed her on the lips following Spain’s win in the Women’s World Cup final. Rubiales has since been suspended over the allegation, though insists the kiss was consensual.
Hermoso pressed charges earlier this week, Spanish prosecutors said on Wednesday, noting that the case would go forward “as soon as possible.” Spain’s High Court previously said the federation head could face a sexual assault charge, which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.
In addition to a 90-day suspension from FIFA, a world governing body in football, Rubiales is also under investigation for “serious misconduct” by Spain’s top sports court over the apparently unsolicited kiss.
Rubiales grabbed Hermoso and kissed her on the lips during an award ceremony after Spain’s victory over England in the Women’s World Cup final late last month. The federation president later insisted the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual.” Hermoso, however, said the interaction made her feel “vulnerable and like the victim of a sexual assault.” She added that Rubiales’ “impulsive, macho act” occurred with “no type of consent on my part.”
While prosecutors previously stated they had received no less than six formal complaints over the incident, until Tuesday none had come from Hermoso. With her case filed, criminal charges could now go ahead should the court opt to pursue them. The High Court would preside over any litigation, as the alleged misconduct took place overseas, in Australia.
In response to the scandal, the vice-president of Spain’s football federation, Rafael del Amo, as well as 11 members of the Spanish female team’s coaching staff resigned, while Hermoso and her World Cup-winning teammates said that they will not represent the national team again until Rubiales is stood down from his position. He has so far refused to resign, however.
The head coach of the Spanish women’s team and a close ally of Rubiales, Jorge Vilda, was dismissed from his position on Tuesday, with the federation saying he had been replaced by Montse Tome, the first woman to manage the team. Though the body offered no immediate explanation for the decision, Vilda was among the first to defend Rubiales amid the sexual assault allegations, saying he was the victim of a smear campaign by “false feminists.” He later reversed course and apologized, however.
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