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Ex-Spain boss Vilda denies pressuring Hermoso after kiss

Spain’s sacked women’s coach Jorge Vilda denied Tuesday pressuring midfielder Jenni Hermoso to downplay the unsolicited kiss she got from former football federation president Luis Rubiales during questioning in court.

Spanish public prosecutors have accused Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion for kissing Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony after Spain beat England in the Women’s World Cup final in Australia on August 20.

Rubiales was the head of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) at the time, but he has since resigned following an outcry over the kiss.

Last month Spain’s top criminal court, the National Court, expanded the scope of its investigation to include Vilda and two other federation officials on suspicion of trying to get Hermoso to back Rubiales after the kiss and summoned them to appear for questioning.

During Tuesday’s closed-door hearing Vilda, who was replaced as coach just weeks after the World Cup final, denied having pressured Hermoso and her brother as the player has said, judicial sources told AFP.

The federation’s head of marketing, Ruben Rivera who also appeared in court on Tuesday, also denied the accusation of coercion, the sources said.

Hermoso and three other players — Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodríguez — have already been summoned as witnesses.

They said Hermoso and her family came under pressure from federation officials to downplay the kiss and say it was consensual in the wake of the public uproar over Rubiales’ behaviour.

The kiss sparked a global backlash, and a major crisis within Spanish football, with most of the World Cup winners refusing to play for the team until they got guarantees of leadership changes and other reforms to the scandal-hit RFEF.

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