Spanish footballer Jenni Hermoso has accused Luis Rubiales of sexual assault for ‘unacceptable’ World Cup kiss. Hermoso’s decision is Rubiales’ biggest challenge to date, as it could lead to criminal proceedings.
Spanish footballer Jenni Hermoso has accused Luis Rubiales of sexual assault for kissing her on the lips without her consent after the Women’s World Cup final, the country’s prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.
Rubiales, the now suspended president of the Spanish Football Federation, kissed Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony after Spain beat England in Australia.
In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, Spain’s football chief insisted the kiss was consensual, while Hermoso denied it in statements issued by her players’ union.
She also said that she and her family had been put under pressure by the federation to show their support for Rubiales.
The Madrid prosecutor’s office said that under Spain’s new rape law – which came into force last year – Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty.
The new legislation removed the distinction between ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘sexual assault’, making any non-consensual sexual act punishable.
The Spanish government, players’ unions, footballers and many citizens have come out in support of Hermoso. Rubiales, meanwhile, has become a football pariah for refusing to resign.
Spain’s football chief also faces action from the Spanish government.
A legal body overseeing sports has opened an investigation into whether he abused his authority by kissing Hermoso or whether his behaviour tarnished Spain’s image. He could be declared unfit to hold office for up to two years.
Rubiales could also face a vote of no confidence from the federation. The institution has not yet taken this step, although it has asked him to resign.
But Hermoso’s decision is Rubiales’ biggest challenge to date, as it could lead to criminal proceedings.