Rubiales kiss not consensual, Spain’s Jenni Hermoso tells court

Hermoso appeared at a court in Madrid to give her version of the kiss by Luis Rubiales, which sparked a crisis in Spanish football.

Spanish football player Jennifer Hermoso arrives to testify at the High Court in Madrid, Spain - January 2, 2024 REUTERS/Juan Medina
Spanish football player Jennifer Hermoso arrives to testify at the High Court in Madrid [Juan Medina/Reuters]

Spanish World Cup-winning star Jenni Hermoso has told a judge that the kiss forced on her by disgraced former Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales was “at no point consensual” and that she had come under pressure to defend his actions.

Hermoso was at the Madrid court on Tuesday to give her version of the kiss following Spain’s victory over England in the final in Sydney in August.

The 33-year-old went to testify before Judge Francisco de Jorge, who is investigating Rubiales on allegations of sexual assault and coercion.

“Now, everything is in the hands of the justice system and that’s all I can say,” she told reporters on leaving court several hours later.

“The judicial process will continue its course, and thanks for the support that many of you had given to me.”

During the incident on August 20, the then-head of Spain’s RFEF football federation held her head in both hands and forcibly kissed her on the lips after Spain won the World Cup in Australia.

He has said the act was “a consensual peck” but Hermoso has insisted it was not.

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 Rubiales‘s eventual resignation despite his denial of wrongdoing and his assertion that the kiss was consensual.

Hermoso was expected to reiterate in court her allegations that the kiss was unwanted and Rubiales and his staff tried to pressure her and her family to downplay the incident that tarnished Spain’s first Women’s World Cup title.

The testimony was behind closed doors. Spanish media said Hermoso 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.

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

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

The 33-year-old Hermoso, the record scorer for Spain’s women’s team, said last year she received threats in the fallout from the kiss, though she did not elaborate.

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.

Under Spanish law, a non-consensual kiss can be considered sexual assault – a criminal category that groups all types of sexual violence.

In October, the judge questioned three others over allegations they also pressured Hermoso – former women’s coach Jorge Vilda, men’s team director Albert Luque and RFEF marketing boss Ruben Rivera.

Numerous other witnesses have testified in court over the pressure faced by Hermoso, among them two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and two other Spanish teammates.

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.

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

Source: News Agencies