Spanish prosecutors accuse Rubiales of sexual assault at World Cup

Spanish prosecutors accuse Rubiales of sexual assault at World Cup

Spanish state prosecutors have revealed that soccer player Jenni Hermoso has accused Luis Rubiales of sexual assault for kissing her on the lips without her consent after the Women’s World Cup final. This accusation has led to a formal case against Rubiales, who is facing potential legal consequences, including fines or a prison sentence if found guilty.

Spanish prosecutors accuse Rubiales of sexual assault at World Cup

Spanish state prosecutors have filed accusations against Luis Rubiales, the suspended president of the Spanish soccer federation, alleging sexual assault and coercion. The accusations stem from an incident in which Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony following Spain’s victory over England in the Women’s World Cup final, which took place on August 20 in Sydney, Australia. This legal action underscores the significance of consent and respect in personal interactions, even in public events and sports ceremonies.

The case against Luis Rubiales has been officially presented to Spain’s National Court in Madrid, just two days after the player, Jenni Hermoso, formally accused him of sexual assault. Under a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could potentially face penalties including a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty of sexual assault. The law eliminated the distinction between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault,” treating any non-consensual sexual act as a punishable offense.

Additionally, prosecutors have raised the possibility that Rubiales may have engaged in an act of coercion by pressuring Hermoso to defend him immediately after the scandal surrounding his behavior emerged. Rubiales has maintained that the kiss was consensual, while Hermoso and her players’ union have refuted this claim.

Prosecutors have requested that Rubiales appear before a court to provide preliminary testimony. If the National Court judge decides to proceed, a formal court investigation will follow, leading to a recommendation either for dismissal or for the case to proceed to trial.

Jenni Hermoso, a 33-year-old forward who has played for prestigious clubs such as Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Atletico Madrid, currently represents Mexican club Pachuca. Following the incident at the Women’s World Cup final and the subsequent accusations against Luis Rubiales, she returned to her Mexican club.

Luis Rubiales, aged 46, not only faces potential legal consequences but also other significant threats. FIFA suspended him from his post on August 27, one day after he refused to resign and instead delivered a defiant speech during his federation’s general assembly, where he claimed to be the victim of a “witch hunt” by “false feminists.” This suspension is in effect for 90 days while FIFA disciplinary judges assess his case, and FIFA has the authority to impose sanctions ranging from warnings and fines to suspensions from involvement in soccer.

Furthermore, the Spanish government has initiated an investigation into Rubiales’s conduct. A government legal panel responsible for sports oversight is examining whether he abused his authority by kissing Jenni Hermoso without her consent or whether his actions damaged Spain’s image. If deemed unfit, he could be barred from his post for up to two years.

Rubiales’s behavior at the Women’s World Cup final, including the inappropriate gesture, coupled with his controversial speech, has not only tarnished the reputation of the Women’s World Cup title but has also damaged the Spanish Football Federation. Spain’s women’s national team players have indicated that they will not participate further in national team activities until substantial changes are made within the federation. While the federation dismissed coach Jorge Vilda, the players have not yet determined whether this action is sufficient.

The accusations made by prosecutors against Rubiales coincided with the commencement of a strike by players in Spain’s women’s league, Liga F, on the opening day of the competition. The strike was prompted by failed salary negotiations with the league. Liga F was one of the first soccer institutions to publicly criticize Rubiales’s behavior.

Luis Rubiales, a former player and the former head of Spain’s largest players’ union, has been in charge of the Spanish Football Federation since 2018. During his tenure, he has increased revenues and funding for lower-level soccer and women’s soccer, but his achievements have often been overshadowed by scandal.

One of his controversial moves was relocating the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia in 2019 in exchange for $40 million a year. This decision was widely criticized by women’s and human rights organizations due to concerns about the Saudi regime’s treatment of women and minorities. It also faced scrutiny from Spanish authorities, with an investigative judge examining the legality of the Super Cup contracts.

Rubiales’s influence expanded when he became a vice president of UEFA, the European soccer body. He was expected to lead the bid by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco to host the 2030 men’s World Cup. However, Spain’s government has expressed concerns that the bid for hosting this major sporting event could be jeopardized by the ongoing controversies surrounding Rubiales.

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