Prosecutors open proceedings against Rubiales for alleged sexual assault on Jenni Hermoso

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

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

August 28, 2023 03:05 PM

August 28, 2023 06:05 PM

Prosecutors have opened legal proceedings against Luis Rubiales for alleged sexual assault on Spanish footballer Jenni Hermoso. 

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president was provisionally suspended from his position by FIFA days ago after forcibly kissing the player on the lips during the medal ceremony after the World Cup final on August 20. 

Spain's National Court (Audiencia Nacional) will now investigate the events and determine whether a possible crime was committed. 

The case was sent directly to the National Court because the events took place outside of Spain.

The prosecution states that it is necessary to determine "the legal significance" of Hermoso's statements in which she asserts that the kiss was not consensual.

For this reason, and in view of the complaints received, the prosecutor's office announces that it has opened pre-trial investigative proceedings to investigate the facts that "could be constitutive of a crime of sexual assault." As it is only a pre-trial phase, the judicial process has not started at this point.

Prosecutors will also inform Jenni Hermoso of her rights as a victim of an alleged crime of sexual assault to present a formal complaint. She will be given 15 days to do so. 

The prosecutor who signs the decree emphasizes that in view of Hermoso's statements the act was not consented to and therefore sees the need to investigate the facts. However, this is a pre-trial phase and, therefore, the judicial process has not yet started.

To proceed with a case for sexual assault, a complaint must be filed by the aggrieved person, their legal representative, or a complaint must be made from the public prosecutor's office.

Catalonia demands stronger response

Catalonia's minister for the presidency, Laura Vilagrà, and the general secretary of sport and physical activity, Anna Caula, met this Monday with the president of the Catalan Football Federation, Joan Soteras, at the government headquarters. Until Friday, Soteras was also one of the vice-presidents of the Spanish Football Federation.

Sources consulted by the Catalan News Agency (ACN) explained that Vilagrà and Caula asked Soteras to be more forceful in the face of the alleged case of sexual assault by Rubiales.

They have also asked him to condemn sexism and to take action so that the Rubiales case "does not remain just an anecdote."

As Esport3 published, the Catalan administration expects the Catalan Football Federation to promote actions in favor of women's football and a change of funds.

Soteras resigned from the RFEF leadership on Friday and expressed his support for FIFA suspending Rubiales.

Hermoso denies kiss was consensual

In a statement released last Friday, Jenni Hermoso outlined that the kiss was not consensual, as Rubiales argued.

"I want to clarify that, as seen in the images, in no moment did I consent to the kiss that he gave me, and of course, under no circumstances did I hoist up the president," Hermoso said in a statement given through the player's union, FutPro. 

In a personal statement released on her own social media channels, Hermoso underlined that Rubiales' version of events are "completely false," she described the forced kiss as "machista," and confirmed that she feels "a victim of an assault." 

In addition, 81 Spanish players, including the entire World Cup-winning squad, announced in a joint statement that they will not return to the international team until Rubiales is no longer in his post.

UEFA reject RFEF 'interventionism' request 

After the Superior Sports Board (CSD), the Spanish governmental body in charge of sports, brought the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), general secretary of the RFEF, Andreu Camps, denounced the Spanish government to UEFA for interventionism.

Part of football regulation prohibits national governments from intervening in sports federations and sporting matters, and as such, the RFEF made a request against the Spanish government for exactly this, which could have ultimately resulted in the removal of Spanish clubs from European competition this season. 

However, UEFA, European football's governing body, rejected the request and will not act on the matter. 

If CAS determine that Rubiales acted improperly, as the CSD have put forward, they could have the power to remove him from his post. 

Rubiales refuses to resign

Luis Rubiales gave an explosive speech at a federation EGM last Friday afternoon in which he refused to resign, contrary to all expectations.

After a week that saw the scandal spread across the world and the number of voices calling for the resignation of Rubiales grow and grow, the federation president railed against what he termed "false feminism" which he termed "the great scourge of this country." Those in attendance at the meeting gave Rubiales a round of applause for these words. 

Unrepentant, Rubiales began the speech by commenting on the number of messages of support he has received in the past days, which he says far outnumber the criticism he has gotten, and shook his head as he offered a brief apology "to the royal family and to those who felt offended." 

Downplaying the Hermoso kiss as a "peck," Rubiales also claimed that he asked Hermoso permission for the kiss on the podium, and also made the argument that it was the player who first grabbed and hugged him during the medal ceremony. According to Rubiales, Hermoso told him after the kiss, "you're great" ("eres un crack.") Hermoso has completely denied this to be the case.

Rubiales' mother goes on hunger strike

On Monday morning, the mother of under-fire Rubiales locked herself inside a church and started an "indefinite" hunger strike

With the protest, Ángeles Béjar aimed denounce the "inhumane and bloody hunting" of her son, according to Spanish news agency EFE.