Luis Rubiales, the embattled former president of the Spanish Football Federation has appeared in a Madrid court to respond to a criminal complaint over kissing Spanish player Jenni Hermoso.
This comes days after Rubiales resigned as the head of Spain’s football federation.
Rubiales, upon entering the court, remained silent as he confronted accusations of sexual assault and coercion.
The 46-year-old maintains that the kiss he shared with the footballer as she celebrated Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory was consensual.
The court will now determine whether the case should go to trial. The former Football Federation (RFEF) president is facing a criminal complaint formally filed by Spanish state prosecutors. The proceedings will be held behind closed doors under the oversight of Judge Francisco de Jorge.
While Spain’s Women’s World Cup victory in Australia on August 20 should have been a moment of celebration, it has been marred by the controversy surrounding Rubiales’s actions during the post-match celebrations. He insists that the kiss he initiated was mutual and consensual.
However, Hermoso, 33, insisted she did not consent to Rubiales kissing her. Prosecutors have filed a complaint of sexual assault and coercion, alleging that Rubiales pressured the Spain forward to defend him amid public outrage.
Spanish legislation on consent underwent reform in the past two years, particularly after a high-profile gang rape case in 2016 that led to the acquittal of five men accused of rape.
Under the ‘Only Yes is Yes’ law, a non-consensual kiss can be considered a sexual assault, potentially resulting in a fine or even a jail sentence if Rubiales is found guilty at trial.
In a statement issued five days after the World Cup victory, Hermoso emphasised that no professional, sporting, or social individual should experience non-consensual conduct, describing the incident as “sexist” and “without any consent on my part.”
The judge presiding over the case will decide whether it proceeds to trial after reviewing videos capturing events before, during, and after the ceremony. The judge has requested multiple angles of the kissing incident and asked for footage from the dressing room celebration and the team bus as the squad left the stadium in Sydney.