A Spanish judge on Thursday proposed that disgraced former Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales be tried over the kiss he forced on Women’s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso.
In a ruling following his preliminary investigation, judge Francisco de Jorge of Spain’s Audiencia Nacional top criminal court concluded that the kiss “was not consensual and was a unilateral and unexpected move” by Rubiales, who is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion.
He also proposed putting three others on trial for subsequently exerting pressure on Hermoso, 33, “to make a public statement confirming the kiss was consensual”: former women’s coach Jorge Vilda, men’s team director Albert Luque and RFEF marketing boss Ruben Rivera.
All three have also been investigated by the judge.
During the incident on August 20, which took place live in front of the cameras after Spain beat England to win the Women’s World Cup final in Australia, Rubiales held Hermoso’s head in both hands and forcibly kissed her on the lips.
He has described the act as “a consensual peck” but Hermoso has insisted it was not.
In his ruling, De Jorge said questions about “whether the aim was erotic or not and about the excitement stemming from the extraordinary sporting triumph are elements whose legal consequences will have to be examined” before the court.
But he also said that a kiss on the lips “affects the sphere of intimacy reserved for sexual relations, in particular when it involved two adults”.
‘A concerted effort’
He also said he had found evidence of “a concerted effort” by Vilda, Luque and Rivera, in agreement with Rubiales, “to persuade Jennifer Hermoso and get her to agree to make a video saying the kiss was consensual”.
Such actions “could constitute a criminal offence linked to the main offence” attributed to Rubiales, regardless of the fact that on its own, it could appear to be a minor offence.
The kiss provoked widespread outrage and prompted his suspension by world football governing body FIFA.
Under Spanish law, a non-consensual kiss can be considered sexual assault — a criminal category that groups all types of sexual violence.
Penalties for such a kiss range from a fine to four years in prison.
Hermoso filed a lawsuit against Rubiales, 46, in September and testified before the judge earlier this month saying she had come under pressure to defend him both on the flight back from Australia and on a subsequent team holiday to Ibiza in the Balearic Islands.
In her testimony, she said she had faced “constant harassment by the parties under investigation, which disrupted her normal life, causing her anxiety and distress”.
Numerous other witnesses have testified before the judge about the pressure faced by Hermoso, among them two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and two other Spanish teammates.
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