Spain women’s soccer star Jenni Hermoso has filed a complaint against Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales, accusing him of sexual assault after kissing her during the team’s Women’s World Cup Final celebration in August.
After Spain defeated England to win its first World Cup, Rubiales went viral for all the wrong reasons after grabbing Hermoso’s face and kissing her on the lips during the trophy presentation.
Spanish prosecutors announced the sexual assault complaint, which comes one week after they invited her to give her accusation against Rubiales as part of an ongoing investigation into the incident.
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There’s a chance Rubiales faces criminal charges depending on what comes of the investigation.
Prosecutors say that, according to Spanish sexual consent law passed in 2022, Rubiales could face a fine or prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty. The law eliminates the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Rubiales initially said the kiss was consensual, though Hermoso said the opposite in statements issued by her and her players’ union. Hermoso also stated that pressure from the Spanish football federation was put on her and her family to support Rubiales after the scandalous kiss.
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“I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part,” Hermoso said in a statement posted to her social media. “Simply put, I was not respected.”
Rubiales was also seen in the crowd celebrating Spain’s victory during the World Cup Finals with a crotch grab.
The Spanish government, along with the players’ union and teammates, are backing Hermoso, as Rubiales refuses to step down from his post as president. FIFA had suspended Rubiales on Aug. 27 after telling the general assembly of the Spanish football federation that he has been victimized by a “witch hunt” from “false feminists.”
The suspension for Rubiales lasts 90 days, and FIFA could impose sanctions on anyone, which could range anywhere from warnings to suspensions.
The Spanish Football Federation also has the option for a no-confidence vote, though they have not made the call to do so despite asking Rubiales to resign.
While this is ongoing with Rubiales, Spain’s head coach, Jorge Vilda, was fired on Tuesday. Vilda, who was among those applauding Rubiales’ speech to the federation, had a major issue with the national team prior to the World Cup kicking off.
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More than a dozen players signed a letter complaining about Vilda and how he ran the national squad, which led to some players quitting before the World Cup began.
Hermoso’s initial comments about the kiss was that she “did not enjoy” it, but she later downplayed the situation, telling Spanish media that the move from Rubiales was “no big deal.” Hermoso later released her statement saying the kiss was not consensual.
Despite the huge victory, the win has been tarnished by this controversy for Spain. Interim soccer president Pedro Rocha said, “The most sincere apologies to the soccer world as a whole for the totally unacceptable behavior of its highest representative.”
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“In no way his behavior represents the values of Spanish society as a whole, its institutions, its representatives, its athletes and the Spanish sports leaders,” Rocha wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.