Prosecutors file complaint against Rubiales for sexual assault on Hermoso

Suspended Spanish Football Federation president kissed player during World Cup final ceremony

Spanish female football team celebrates their victory during the World Cup final in Australia
Spanish female football team celebrates their victory during the World Cup final in Australia / Spanish Royal House
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

September 8, 2023 01:27 PM

September 8, 2023 04:26 PM

Spain's public prosecutors' office has filed a complaint against suspended Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion against footballer Jenni Hermoso.

The events date back to the World Cup final medal ceremony after Spain beat England in Sydney, Australia, on August 20.

During the ceremony, Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips while he held her head with his two hands. The complaint was filed days after the footballer testified to the prosecution and filed a complaint against Rubiales herself.

Hermoso and other players were pressured by Rubiales and other members of his team to justify the events, something the prosecution considers could be considered a crime of coercion.

The prosecution calls for Rubiales to give testimony and Hermoso to give a victim statement. They will also look into Australia's legislation on sexual freedom and have asked authorities in the country to share information on such cases. 

All the information will be shared with the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional), which will be in charge of the case.

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 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.