Footballer Hermoso files complaint against Rubiales over forced kiss during World Cup ceremony

Public prosecutors' office to also submit complaint against suspended Spanish football federation president

A screenshot from the television broadcast of the non-consensual kiss from Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales on Jenni Hermoso
A screenshot from the television broadcast of the non-consensual kiss from Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales on Jenni Hermoso / Catalan News
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

September 6, 2023 03:11 PM

September 6, 2023 04:06 PM

Jenni Hermoso has filed a complaint against the suspended Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president, Luis Rubiales, for the forced kiss during the World Cup Final medal ceremony in August.

The player testified in the public prosecutor's office on Tuesday, setting in motion a complaint against Rubiales also put forward by the prosecutor.

When prosecutors first opened proceedings into a potential sexual assault case against Rubiales at the end of August, Hermoso was given 15 days to present a formal complaint to authorities, which she has now done.

Forced kiss

After the World Cup Final on August 20, which Spain won 1-0 against England to become world champions for the first time, Luis Rubiales grabbed Hermoso's head and kissed her on the lips during the medal ceremony.

The federation chief post an apology video from Doha airport that also drew criticism by many for its apparent lack of sincerity or confession of wrongdoing. It later emerged that Rubiales pressured Hermoso to appear alongside him in the video, while Spanish team manager Jorge Vilda also pressured the player's family up to three times for the same motive.

Rubiales then refused to resign during an explosive speech given at an RFEF extraordinary general meeting, contrary to all expectations, while railing against the "false feminism" which he said was trying to "socially assassinate" him. 

The RFEF head also affirmed that the kiss was consensual.

Following his refusal to step down, 81 Spanish players announced they would not be returning to the national team fold until there were significant changes in the directorship of the organization. The federation then threatened legal action against the players.

The Spanish Football Federation released various statements then brandishing Hermoso a liar. In a personal statement, unlike most that were sent through her union, Hermoso denied that the kiss was consensual and explained that she felt the victim of an assault.   

Rubiales provisionally suspended

FIFA took the step of provisionally suspending Rubiales from all footballing activity for 90 days and prohibited him from making contact with Hermoso or her family. 

The Spanish government were also waiting for Rubiales' announcement at that EGM in which he refused to resign before taking any action. 

After the federation president refused to resign, Spain's Superior Sports Board (CSD) brought the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with head of the CSD dubbing the case the "#MeToo moment of Spanish football."

Yet, CAS only ruled that the case was a 'serious' breach of conduct, rather than a 'very serious,' as requested by the Spanish government. With a case categorized as such, the maximum punishment permissible would be a two-year suspension, rather than a complete removal from his post. 

Regional presidents at the RFEF then unanimously called for Rubiales to step aside after "unacceptable behavior that has seriously damaged the image of Spanish football."

Manager fired

During Rubiales' EGM speech, the manager of Spain's men's and women's teams, Luis de la Fuente and Jorge Vilda respectively, were seen applauding the federation president's words. This in turn led to widespread criticism of each team manager. 

Shortly after, the vast majority of Vilda's backroom staff resigned in protest. Yet, neither de la Fuente nor Vilda stepped down. De la Fuente later apologized for applauding.

The women's team manager, who has long been the subject of controversy stretching back to a year before the World Cup when 15 players sent letters to the federation asking for improvements and changes, was eventually fired this week.