West News Wire: Jenni Hermoso, a Spanish football player, has filed a formal criminal complaint against Luis Rubiales, the president of the nation’s football federation, accusing him of sexual misconduct after he kissed her on the lips after Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final. Since the allegation, Rubiales has been suspended; nevertheless, he maintains that the kiss was consensual.
Spanish prosecutors said on Wednesday that Hermoso filed charges earlier this week and that the case would move forward “as soon as possible.” The head of the federation might be charged with sexual assault, a crime that carries a maximum four-year prison sentence, according to a prior statement from Spain’s High Court.
In addition to a 90-day suspension from FIFA, a world governing body in football, Rubiales is also under investigation for “serious misconduct” by Spain’s top sports court over the apparently unsolicited kiss.
Following Spain’s triumph over England in the Women’s World Cup final late last month, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso by the head and kissed her passionately. Later, the president of the federation affirmed that the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric, and consensual.”
Hermoso, on the other hand, claimed that the encounter left her feeling “vulnerable and like the victim of a sexual assault.” Rubiales’ “impulsive, macho act” happened “without any kind of consent on my part,” she continued.
Prosecutors had previously claimed they had at least six formal complaints on the incident, but up until Tuesday, none had come from Hermoso. Criminal charges could now move forward with her case filed, should the court decide to do so. Any litigation would be overseen by the High Court, as the alleged misconduct took place overseas, in Australia.
In response to the scandal, the vice-president of Spain’s football federation, Rafael del Amo, as well as 11 members of the Spanish female team’s coaching staff resigned, while Hermoso and her World Cup-winning teammates said that they will not represent the national team again until Rubiales is stood down from his position. He has so far refused to resign, however.
The head coach of the Spanish women’s team and a close ally of Rubiales, Jorge Vilda, was dismissed on Tuesday, with the federation saying he had been replaced by Montse Tome, the first woman to manage the team. Though the body offered no immediate explanation for the decision, Vilda was among the first to defend Rubiales amid the sexual assaltallegations, saying he was the victim of a smear campaign by “false feminists.” He later reversed course and apologized, however.