Spanish football player Jenni Hermoso has formally filed a criminal complaint against Luis Rubiales for kissing her on the lips without her consent after the Women’s World Cup final, the country’s prosecutors’ office said on Wednesday.
The complaint, which was filed on Tuesday, is key for a preliminary investigation, which prosecutors at Spain’s top criminal court have opened for the possible alleged crime of ‘sexual assault’, to move forward.
Rubiales, the now-suspended president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), forcibly kissed Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony after Spain beat England to win the title on 20 August in Sydney, Australia.
He has insisted the kiss was consensual. Hermoso has denied that. She said the unwanted kiss had left her feeling ‘vulnerable and like the victim of an assault’, with a statement on social media describing it as ‘an impulsive, macho act, out of place and with no type of consent on my part’.
She also said she and her family were pressured by the RFEF to show her support for Rubiales in the immediate aftermath of the scandal caused by the kiss that tarnished her team’s victory.
Spain’s National Court had said last week that it was opening the preliminary probe in light of the ‘unequivocal nature’ of Hermoso’s statements, saying it was necessary ‘to determine their legal significance’. Prosecutors had also said last week that they were going to meet with Hermoso to give her the opportunity to present an accusation against Rubiales.
The Spanish government, players’ unions, players and many citizens have come out in support of Hermoso. Rubiales, meanwhile, has become a football outcast even while he refuses to resign. ALSO READ: Top players say ‘unacceptable’ after Spain’s football chief refuses to quit over kiss.
Rubiales was suspended from his post by FIFA on 27 August, a day after he refused to step down when he delivered a defiant speech to the general assembly of his federation in which he claimed he was victim of a ‘witch hunt’ by ‘false feminists’.
Last Friday, a Spanish government legal panel handling sports issues opened a formal case against Rubiales — who is also a vice-president of UEFA — over his conduct that was televised globally, making him a national embarrassment. ALSO READ: Spain opens legal case to try and force Rubiales out, as football chief breaks his silence.
Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward, now plays for Mexican club Pachuca after a long career with top Spanish and European clubs, including FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid.