Spanish football star Jenni Hermoso testified in Madrid High Court on Tuesday that the kiss by former football federation president Luis Rubiales after Spain won the Women’s World Cup was not consensual. A judge will now decide whether Rubiales should face sexual assault and coercion charges.
Hermoso spoke behind closed doors for about 2-1/2 hours with investigating judge Francisco de Jorge, who was reviewing evidence, including television footage, before deciding whether to charge and proceed with the case to trial. “All is in the hands of justice, that’s all I can sayâæ the process will take its course,” Hermoso told reporters while leaving the court with her lawyer.
Hermoso, Spain’s all-time leading scorer, filed a criminal complaint in September alleging sexual assault and coercion in connection with the kiss on the winners’ podium on Aug. 20, saying she did not want to be kissed and felt “vulnerable and a victim of an aggression.”
Rubiales, who resigned as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Sept. 10 amid heavy pressure, after previously refusing to go, said the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.
The case shook the sporting world and society in Spain and around the world, sparking protests and accusations from women that prominent or powerful men had forced intimacy on them. The social media hashtag #SeAcabo (“It’s over”) became a rallying cry in Spain.
In addition to possible criminal charges, Rubiales is under investigation by Spain’s top sports court for alleged “serious misconduct,” and FIFA has suspended him from office for three years.
According to High Court prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil, the sexual assault charge that Rubiales could face carries a prison sentence of one to four years. She claimed in her complaint that Rubiales and his entourage put her and her relatives under pressure to say she “justified and approved what happened.” When Rubiales appeared before Judge Francisco de Jorge in mid-September, he was issued a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching Hermoso.