Luis Rubiales has been at the center of an international storm since he unwantedly kissed the mouth of Spanish soccer star Jenni Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup final on August 20.
Rubiales, who was then president of the Spanish football federation, RFEF, claimed that the kiss was mutual and that Hermoso had consented. Hermoso says that’s “categorically false.”
“I felt vulnerable and the victim of an impulsive, sexist and inappropriate act, without any consent on my part,” she wrote in a statement.
Suspended by FIFA, under pressure from the federation and under investigation by the Spanish prosecutor’s office, Rubiales resigned from his post on September 10. But the legal proceedings against him are only just beginning and the World Cup winners are not happy with the changes so far within FIFA. federation.
Here’s where things stand:
The accusations against Rubiales
Rubiales appeared in a Spanish court for the first time on Friday, after Hermoso filed a formal complaint against him, prompting state prosecutors to formally charge him with sexual assault and coercion , reports the Associated Press. Rubiales has denied any wrongdoing.
Judge Francisco de Jorge issued a restraining order against Rubiales, prohibiting him from being within 200 meters (656 feet) of Hermoso. State prosecutors had requested a 500-yard ban and a requirement that Rubiales report to a judge every 15 days, but the judge denied that request, as well as the lawyer’s request to Hermoso aims to freeze Rubiales’ assets, AP reports. De Jorge is leading the preliminary investigation into the case and will decide whether it will go to trial, according to the AP.
Rubiales’ court appearance came less than a week after he announced his resignation as president of the soccer federation. It also followed an announcement by FIFA that it was provisionally suspending Rubiales from all football-related activity for 90 days while it conducted disciplinary proceedings against him.
In a post on from an account that appears to belong to Rubiales, we can read: “After the rapid suspension carried out by FIFA, and the rest of the procedures opened against me, it is obvious that I will not be able to return to my position.”
“I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power to make it prevail,” the statement continued.
The RFEF confirmed his resignation.
At the same time, Spain’s administrative sports court has opened its own case, investigating complaints of “serious misconduct”, alleged abuse of authority and “public acts that undermine the dignity or decorum of sport”, explains Reuters. The court could find Rubiales unfit to hold future office.
What exactly happened at the World Cup?
Spain’s victory over England – the first ever World Cup title for the women’s team – was supposed to be a moment of triumph. But that decision was quickly overshadowed by Rubiales’ actions.
During the tournament’s medal ceremony, the Spanish team proceeded to a receiving line that included Rubiales. Greeting HermosoRubiales hugged the star firmly, then he pulled her head towards his face and kissed her firmly on the lips.
Noe Llamas/SPP/Sipa United States via Reuters Connect
The video also showed Rubiales making a crotch-grabbing gesture in the dignitaries’ stand just after Spain’s victory over England, just meters from Spanish Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter, Princess Sofia.
After the match, Rubiales was in the locker room, where he announced to the team that they would all be going to Ibiza and then said: “There we will celebrate the wedding of Jenni and Rubiales.”
Fury over her behavior began immediately, and Hermoso claims the federation continually pressured her to make a statement in support of Rubiales’ actions. Rubiales first brushed off criticism of his behavior, then apologized. Then, during an emergency meeting of the federation on August 25, he repeated five times “No voy a dimitir” – I will not resign.
What are the consequences Rubiales faces?
Spain changed its sexual assault laws last year, following outcry over a 2016 gang rape case.
Under Spain’s “Only Yes Is Yes” law, a non-consensual kiss can be considered sexual assault, explains the BBC. Rubiales faces a fine or a prison term of one to four years if convicted of sexual assault.
He will certainly take a financial hit. Rubiales resigned from two highly paid positions: president of the Spanish football federation, as well as his position as vice-president of UEFA, the European football body. He would have received $688,462 in 2021 from the Spanish federation, as well as an annual salary of $270,000 from UEFA.
What’s going on with the Spanish women’s national team?
After Rubiales initially refused to resign, the entire Women’s World Cup winning team and dozens of other Spain players released a statement calling for structural changes and said they would not play for Spain as long as the current leaders are in place.
The federation then fired women’s coach Jorge Vilda, close to Rubiales and already the victim of a players’ rebellion last year. To replace him, the federation announced that the team’s new head coach would be Montse Tomé. Tomé served as assistant coach to Vilda and is the first female coach to lead the Spanish women’s team.
But many Spanish players believe that is not enough.
Tomé was expected to announce his squad for next week’s match against Sweden and the following match, but these plans are now late.
Midfielder Alexia Putellas issued a statement Friday, signed by 39 players – including 21 of 23 from the World Cup squad – listing the changes they are demanding. These include: the restructuring of the women’s football organization, the presidential cabinet and the General Secretariat; the resignation of the president of the RFEF (today Pedro Rocha); and restructuring communications and marketing as well as integrity management.
“The changes specified to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance towards people who, through their position within the RFEF, have engaged in, incited, concealed or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women” , indicates the press release.
Spanish sports law requires athletes to respond to national team call-ups unless they are injured or other circumstances prevent them from playing, the AP reports.
The upcoming matches are part of the Nations League, a competition that will determine which countries qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.