Spain player Jenni Hermoso has filed a criminal complaint over suspended football chief Luis Rubiales’s kiss on her lips at the Women’s World Cup final, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutors at Spain’s top criminal court opened a preliminary investigation last week into whether Rubiales could be charged with the crime of “sexual assault” over the unsolicited kiss.
Hermoso’s complaint, which was filed on Tuesday, boosts the chances that the court will press ahead with the case and Rubiales will be charged.
The prosecutor’s office of the National Court will now formally present its complaint against Rubiales “as soon as possible”, the prosecutor’s office said Wednesday in a brief statement.
Under Spanish law, sexual assault includes a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different penalties.
The punishment for a non-consensual kiss can range from a fine to four years in prison, according to a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.
Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Rubiales, 46, sparked a worldwide backlash after forcibly kissing Hermoso during the medal ceremony following Spain’s triumph in Sydney on August 20.
Hermoso, 33, later 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”.
Rubiales insists the kiss was consensual.
World football governing body FIFA provisionally suspended Rubiales for 90 days after he refused to resign from his post.
Some 81 players went on strike from the women’s side in protest after Rubiales’ fierce defensive speech following the incident, in which he railed against “false feminism”. They said they would not return until the RFEF’s leadership was changed.
Spain’s top sports court (TAD) also agreed to investigate Rubiales after the government lodged a complaint.
However the suspended chief said he would continue to defend himself “to prove the truth” over his kiss with Hermoso.
In a statement last week Rubiales reiterated that the kiss was “a mutual and consensual act” with “overflowing jubilation on both sides”.
The RFEF apologised for the “totally unacceptable behaviour” of Rubiales on Tuesday and fired controversial Spain women’s coach Jorge Vilda on Tuesday in the wake of the scandal.
In a letter signed by its interim president Pedro Rocha, the RFEF offered its “most sincere apologies… for the totally unacceptable behaviour of its highest institutional representative during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and in the moments that followed”.
Vilda’s former assistant Montserrat Tome is the new coach — it is the first time a woman has led the team. The next matches are in Nations League qualifying against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26 respectively.
Before the World Cup 15 players refused to play for the national team because of disagreements with Vilda and the federation, although many relented and three were called up for the tournament.
After the tournament Rubiales had pledged to extend Vilda’s contract by four years and give him a significant pay hike.
Meanwhile men’s team defender Dani Carvajal came under fire for comments he made Tuesday night on Spanish radio, in which he said he did not want to position himself on the issue “without knowing what really happened”.
Carvajal had said “there are people who must decide if there is a culprit or a victim” and noted Hermoso had not filed a complaint at the time. He clarified his words in a news conference Wednesday.
“In no moment did I say that Jenni was not the victim, I just said that the presumption of innocence (until proven otherwise) has to be maintained,” said Real Madrid right-back Carvajal.
“If she’s having a tough time we have to show solidarity with her, that’s clear, like any person — I don’t think the president is having a good time either.