Former Spanish soccer president Luis Rubiales will face trial for kissing forward Jenni Hermoso without her consent at the Women’s World Cup, an investigative judge said on Thursday.
Judge Francisco de Jorge ruled that his probe points to Rubiales’ kiss “being unconsented and carried out unilaterally and in a surprising fashion,” the court said.
State prosecutors have accused Rubiales of sexual assault and for allegedly coercing Hermoso to publicly support him in the public backlash against him.
Despite initially claiming he was the victim of a campaign led by “false feminists,” Rubiales eventually resigned from his post for his behavior during the World Cup awards ceremony in Sydney in August. He has denied any wrongdoing.
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The judge also ruled that along with Rubiales, former Spain coach Jorge Vilda, sports director of Spain’s men’s team Albert Luque, and the federation former head of marketing should be tried for allegedly pressuring Hermoso to defend Rubiales, a step she refused to take.
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The trial date will be determined.
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Hermoso testified before the investigative judge in January. The 33-year-old forward, Spain’s all-time leading scorer who plays in the Mexican league, has been widely supported in the country. The kiss scandal has many hoping it will spur a reckoning with sexism in sports.
Based on a sexual consent law passed in 2022, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty, according to the prosecutors’ office in Madrid. The new law eliminated the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault,” sanctioning any unconsented sexual act.
FIFA banned Rubiales for three years until after the men’s 2026 World Cup. His ban will expire before the next women’s tournament in 2027. Spain’s sports authority also ruled him unfit to hold a post in sports management for three years.
© 2024 The Canadian Press
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