29th May 2024
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Hermoso gives testimony in sexual assault case after kiss at World Cup final

Jenni Hermoso, the Spanish player forcibly kissed on the lips by the former president of the country’s football federation at the Women’s World Cup Final, appeared in court on Tuesday to testify in the sexual assault case against him.

She was at Madrid’s National Court (main image) to give her version of the kiss by Luis Rubiales following Spain’s victory over England in the final in Sydney last August. ALSO READ: Rubiales denies any wrongdoing, but is banned from going within 200 metres of Hermoso.

‘Everything went well,’ Hermoso told reporters after giving testimony. ‘The judicial process will continue its course, and thanks for the support that many of you have given to me.’

The incident sparked outrage across the football world and ignited one of the worst crises in the history of the sport in Spain. It also led to a boycott of the national team by the World Cup-winning players, and to the eventual resignation of Rubiales, despite his denial of wrongdoing and his allegation that the kiss was consensual. ALSO READ: Spanish Football Federation confirms resignation of Luis Rubiales.

Hermoso’s testimony was behind closed doors and the court did not release any details about her statements. Spanish media said she had asked the judge to keep her court appearance as private as possible. She arrived wearing a grey coat and waved to journalists before entering the court through one of its main entrances along with her lawyers.

Spanish media also reported from unconfirmed sources that she said the kiss was not consensual during her testimony, and that she had been ‘harassed’ and ‘pressured’ after the incident to say that it had been consensual. The 33-year-old Hermoso, the record scorer for Spain’s women’s team, had said last year she received threats in the fallout from the kiss, though she did not elaborate.

Spanish state prosecutors have accused Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion, alleging he tried to convince Hermoso and her relatives to publicly downplay the kiss. 

The judge is also hearing testimony from other World Cup-winning players, coaches and federation officials, before deciding whether to start a trial.

Among those being investigated for allegedly trying to pressure Hermoso was former Spain women’s national team coach Jorge Vilda and other former federation officials.

Rubiales previously denied wrongdoing to the judge who imposed a restraining order on him not to contact Hermoso.

Based on a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty, according to the prosecutors’ office in Madrid. The new law eliminated the difference between ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘sexual assault’, sanctioning any unconsented sexual act.

FIFA banned Rubiales for three years until after the men’s 2026 World Cup. His ban will expire before the next women’s tournament in 2027. ALSO READ: FIFA bans Rubiales for 3 years for kiss & misconduct at Women’s World Cup Final.

He resigned as the federation president and as a UEFA vice president on 10 September amid mounting pressure in Spain from lawmakers and players. One day later, UEFA thanked Rubiales for his service.

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