Luis Rubiales, the former head of Spain’s football federation, has appeared in a Madrid court to respond to a criminal complaint regarding a kiss he shared with Spanish player Jenni Hermoso. Rubiales, who recently resigned from his position, entered the national court to address accusations of sexual assault and coercion without making any statements, according to BBC reports.
The court will determine whether the case proceeds to trial after Rubiales, aged 46, has consistently claimed that the kiss was consensual and that he had Hermoso’s consent as they celebrated Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup in Australia.
Spanish state prosecutors have officially filed a criminal complaint against the former president of the football federation (RFEF), and Judge Francisco de Jorge will preside over the case.
While Spain’s Women’s World Cup win on August 20th was a cause for celebration, Rubiales’s actions during the post-game festivities have cast a shadow over the victory. Rubiales has maintained that the kiss was a mutual and consensual act, but 33-year-old Hermoso has disputed this claim.
Prosecutors have brought forth initial allegations of sexual assault, adding a charge of coercion, arguing that Rubiales pressured the Spain forward to defend him in the days following the public outcry over the kiss.
Spain’s left-wing government had reformed laws related to consent in the past two years, particularly after a high-profile gang-rape case in 2016 led to the acquittal of five men accused of rape. Under the “Only Yes is Yes” law, Rubiales could potentially face fines or even imprisonment if the case proceeds to trial and he is found guilty of sexual assault.