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Luis Rubiales hugs Jenni Hermoso. Photo: Hannah Mckay (Reuters) / Video: Europa Press
World Cup controversy

Former head of Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales summoned to appear at court this Friday

After the World Cup kiss on the lips controversy, the former RFEF president will have to appear before a judge to face accusations of sexual assault and coercion of Jenni Hermosos and her family

Óscar Bellot

Madrid

Wednesday, 13 September 2023, 10:16

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Spanish National Court judge Francisco de Jorge has summoned the former president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales , to testify as a defendant on Friday 15 September for the non-consensual kiss to the Spanish national team player Jenni Hermoso at the end of the final of the Women's World Cup on 20 August in Sydney.

The head of the Central Court of Instruction Number 1 has summoned Rubiales, who must attend in person at the court's headquarters, from 12noon onwards.

On Monday the judge accepted the complaint filed by the Public Prosecutor's Office against Rubiales for a charges of sexual assault and another of coercion against Jenni Hermoso, as a result of the non-consensual kiss and his subsequent pressure on the world football champion.

In the order, the judge ordered a number of measures, including a request to broadcaster RTVE for the video or videos "that they have in their archives, which show the moment in which the defendant kisses the complainant - from all angles ", as well as "the minutes immediately before and after" the episode during the medal presentation ceremony of the Women's World Cup.

The law official also requested the video of the team's celebration in the dressing room posted on the internet by El País, the video "of the moments of the kiss and any others related to these events" published by the sports daily As, and the video recorded on the Spanish national team bus after the World Cup title win, which is held by La Vanguardia. In the latter recording, Jenni Hermoso and her teammates did not seem to attach much importance to the incident and joked about Rubiales' attitude towards the Madrid player.

One to four years in prison

If found guilty of the charges, Rubiales could face a prison sentence of between one and four years, although the minimum prison sentence can be replaced by a fine, for his behaviour, which also cost him his job as RFEF president and the position he held as UEFA vice-president.

The man from Motril, initially suspended by FIFA for a period of 90 days and cornered by the government and social media condemnation, ended up resigning last Sunday, after three weeks that rocked Spanish football.

Last Friday, the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Audiencia Nacional filed a complaint against Rubiales "for the alleged commission of a crime of sexual assault and a crime of coercion", the latter punishable by a sentence of between six months and three years in prison. It did so three days after Jenni Hermoso denounced the then RFEF leader. This was an essential step in order to open the criminal proceedings before the Audiencia Nacional, as the incident took place abroad.

The Public Prosecutor's Office considers that Rubiales committed both offences punishable by imprisonment in the Penal Code, the first and most serious of which was for kissing the footballer on the mouth, while "grabbing Jenni Hermoso's head with both hands without her consent".

"Constant and repeated pressure"

As for the charge of coercion, the complaint states that Jenni Hermoso, as well as her immediate family and friends, "suffered constant and repeated pressure from Mr. Rubiales and his professional entourage". The Public Prosecutor's Office points out, in this sense, that Rubiales' objective was for Jenni Hermoso to "publicly justify and approve of the act committed against her will".

In view of the commotion generated by his behaviour at the stadium in Sydney, Rubiales tried to get Jenni Hermoso to take the heat off the matter, to the point of asking her, during the flight that took the World Cup winners back to Madrid, to join him in the video prepared by the Federation as an apology for what had happened. "My job is at stake, do it even if it's for my daughters. I need you to go out there with me," the official allegedly told the Mexican Pachuca striker. The player refused the request and Rubiales involved the then women's coach Jorge Vilda, who unsuccessfully approached the player's relatives.

Discredit the player's version

Subsequently, the Federation, still under the command of Rubiales, tried to discredit the player's version, issuing a statement hours before Rubiales was suspended by FIFA in which it provided a series of photographs that tried to show that it had been the player who had brought about the rapprochement. The statement was withdrawn by the RFEF hours later, in one of the first decisions taken by Pedro Rocha as interim president.

"The meaning of the kiss to Jenni would have been exactly the same as a kiss to one of my daughters. Among friends and family, that's very, very common," Rubiales said in an interview with journalist Piers Morgan on Sunday, according to an excerpt carried by the British newspaper The Sun.

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