Rubiales called to testify on Friday in sexual assault and coercion case

Judge asks media outlets to send videos of the Hermoso forced kiss

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 / Cillian Shields
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

September 12, 2023 10:34 AM

September 12, 2023 07:13 PM

Spain's National Court has summoned the former president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales to testify in his case of alleged sexual assault and coercion on Friday.

The court accepted a complaint from prosecutors against Rubiales this week. 

The head of the Central Court of Inquiry of the National Court, Francisco de Jorge, has allowed the complaint of footballer Jenni Hermoso and the case will continue in the courts. 

The magistrate set out the first steps of this procedure, such as asking various media outlets to provide videos of the moment of the kiss, of the moments before and after, and of the World Cup celebrations by the players.

Specifically, the judge has asked Spanish state broadcaster RTVE to hand over the video and audio they have from all angles of the moment Rubiales kissed Hermoso, as well as the minutes immediately before and after.

The judge has informed Rubiales of the case continuing so that he can exercise his right of defence.

Last week, Hermoso and Spain's public prosecution filed a complaint against Rubiales.

Rubiales resigns

On Sunday night, Rubiales announced that he would resign from his post as president of the Spanish Football Federation. He also stepped down as one of UEFA's vice presidents.

In a written statement shared on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, Rubiales talked about a "disproportionate campaign" and "excessive persecution" as reasons why he stepped down, so that Spanish football was not affected.

"I have to look forward, look to the future," he added after saying that there are "powers in the shadows" that will not allow him to return to his position.

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 posted an apology video from Doha airport that also drew criticism from 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.