Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has been ordered to appear before a Spanish judge on Friday as part of an investigation into his unsolicited kiss of Jennifer Hermoso, the star player of Spain’s women’s national team, at the World Cup final in August.
Rubiales, who resigned from his post on September 10 after facing widespread criticism and a provisional suspension by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, is accused of sexual assault by Hermoso, who filed a criminal complaint against him on September 6.
The incident occurred on August 20, when Spain defeated England 1-0 in Sydney to win their first Women’s World Cup. During the medal ceremony, Rubiales grabbed Hermoso’s head and kissed her on the lips, without her consent, in front of millions of viewers and dignitaries, including Queen Letizia and Princess Sofia of Spain.
Hermoso said she felt violated and humiliated by Rubiales’ action, which she described as “an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act” on social media. She also said she received threats and insults from Rubiales’ supporters after speaking out.
Rubiales, however, claimed that the kiss was consensual and that he made a mistake in the heat of the moment. He also dismissed his critics as “idiots and stupid people” and said he would fight to clear his name.
The case has sparked a national and international debate on sexism and harassment in soccer, as well as a rift between Rubiales and the players of Spain’s women’s team, who refused to play in a friendly match against Germany on September 12 in solidarity with Hermoso.
The RFEF has expressed its full support for Hermoso and condemned Rubiales’ behavior as “unacceptable and intolerable”. It has also announced that it will take legal action against Rubiales for damaging the image and reputation of the federation and Spanish soccer.
The judge in charge of the case will decide whether to proceed with the prosecution of Rubiales or dismiss the charges after hearing his testimony on Friday. If found guilty, Rubiales could face up to five years in prison.