Ex-Spain football boss in court over World Cup kiss scandal

Sport

Published: 2023-09-15 15:10

Last Updated: 2024-02-26 20:09


Ex-Spain football boss in court over World Cup kiss scandal
Ex-Spain football boss in court over World Cup kiss scandal

Five days after resigning as Spain's football chief, Luis Rubiales is due in court Friday on sexual assault charges over forcibly kissing women's World Cup player Jenni Hermoso.

Dozens of journalists were on hand as the 46-year-old arrived on foot at Madrid's Audiencia Nacional court accompanied by his lawyer, where he will appear before Judge Francisco de Jorge who is heading up the investigation. He did not speak to the press.

At the hearing, which gets underway at midday (1000 GMT) and will be closed to the public, Rubiales will be questioned as a defendant in regards to allegations of "sexual assault," a court statement said earlier this week.

Hermoso will also be called to testify at a later date.

The case comes barely four weeks after Rubiales sparked outrage when he forcibly kissed the midfielder in front of the world's media after Spain defeated England in the final on August 20.

Rubiales, who was head of Spain's RFEF football federation at the time, has repeatedly insisted the kiss was consensual.

Hermoso has said it was not and that it left her feeling like the "victim of an assault."

De Jorge on Monday admitted a complaint against Rubiales filed the previous week by the public prosecutors' office, citing alleged "offences of sexual assault" and "coercion."

Under a recent reform of the Spanish penal code, a non-consensual kiss can be considered sexual assault, a category which groups all types of sexual violence.

If found guilty, Rubiales could face anything from a fine to four years in prison, sources at the public prosecutors' office have said.

In their complaint, prosecutors said they had included the offense of coercion because of Hermoso's statement in which she said "she and those close to her had suffered constant ongoing pressure by Luis Rubiales and his professional entourage to justify and condone" his actions.

The global furore over the incident all but eclipsed the victory celebrations for Spain's World Cup champions.

- '100% non-sexual' -

After three weeks of refusing to resign over the kiss, Rubiales, who was suspended by FIFA on August 26, stood down late on Sunday but continued to insist the kiss was consensual in a TV interview with Britain's Piers Morgan.

"What we had is a spontaneous act, a mutual act, an act that both consented to, which was driven by the emotion of the moment," he said, describing the kiss as "100 percent non-sexual."

The hearing comes with new coach Montse Tome, the first woman to lead the team, set to announce her squad on Friday for UEFA Women's Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland on 22 and 26 September.

Her first job will be to try and convince the 23 world champions to don the red jersey again after they and dozens of others said they would not play for the national team without significant changes at the head of the federation.

The players have not yet said what they will do following Rubiales' resignation although the situation has changed since the RFEF sacked their controversial coach Jorge Vilda, named Tome in his stead and pledged further internal reforms.

"We have had discussions.. I don't think there will be any problem," Rafael del Amo, head of the RFEF's women's football committee told Cope radio on Tuesday.

"I think things will move forward."