Ex-Spanish Football Boss Ordered to Keep Distance from Player Amid Assault Accusations


A Spanish judge has mandated that Luis Rubiales, Spain’s former football chief, keep at least a 200m distance from football player Jenni Hermoso. At the behest of prosecutors, the national Madrid court is mulling over a criminal complaint accusing Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion.

Rubiales emphatically denied kissing Ms Hermoso without her consent when making his first appearance before the court, following Spain’s victorious Women’s World Cup match. Despite the denial, Ms Hermoso and her lawyer maintained that the kiss was non-consensual.

Earlier this week, Rubiales resigned from his role as the head of the football federation (RFEF) and subsequently attended a court hearing on Friday to refute the charges while fulfilling his resignation.

Francisco de Jorge, the presiding judge, was persuaded to prohibit the football chief from coming within a 500m range or establishing any form of communication with Hermoso. Although he accepted this order, it was eventually limited to only 200m. The judge also advised him to avoid contacting Hermoso during the course of the investigation, but dismissed an additional proposition to appear before the court every 15 days.

Spain secured the Women’s World Cup in Australia on 20th August, but the joyous victory was quickly marred by the ongoing controversy involving Rubiales. The ongoing boycott of the national team remains unresolved just a week before their next match, and 39 players have already signed a letter expressing their concerns about the newly implemented changes by the football federation not going far enough to ensure their safety.

On his arrival to the court dressed in a black suit and white shirt, Rubiales spent an estimated duration of 45 minutes being grilled by the judge. After refuting the accusations, he swiftly exited the court proceedings with his lawyer Olga Tubau.

Rubiales perpetually insists that the kiss on the lips he planted on Hermoso was a mutual, consensual act. Despite this assertion, he resigned from his position on Sunday declaring his steadfast faith in the truth and his commitment to seeing it prevail.

Ms Hermoso, now 33, however, has remained resolute in stating that she did not permit the kiss. Besides her assault complaint, an additional accusation of coercion has been tabled against Rubiales which suggests that he attempted to coerce Hermoso into defending him during the aforementioned controversy.

Spain has recently taken steps in redefining its consent laws following a scandalous gang-rape case in 2016. This led to the initiation of the “Only Yes is Yes” law, according to which any non-consensual act such as a kiss is recognized as sexual assault. Following this guideline, Rubiales is susceptible to a fine or potentially even incarceration if the court case proceeds and culminates in a guilty verdict.

After the triumphant World Cup win, Hermoso issued a public statement expressing her sentiments about no individual having to undergo such nonconsensual acts in any social, work or sport setting. She labelled the act as a display of rampant sexism and claimed it was carried out impulsively without any acknowledgment of her consent.

The decision of whether to progress the case to trial or not rests solely on the judge who will review numerous videos from the ceremony. His interest is particularly piqued by the moment of the alleged non-consensual kiss.

World football’s governing body, Fifa initially suspended Rubiales and he later resigned from his posts at the RFEF and Uefa.

Recent polls suggest that a vast chunk of Spaniards, about 70%, found Rubiales’ actions unacceptable, causing him to take a firm stand and refuse to resign from his positions.

His tenure at the RFEF has seen frequent addresses wherein he strongly asserts that he will not resign. In one publicized interview, Rubiales reiterated that the kiss was a fleeting act lasting barely two-tenths of a second.

The fallout of the scandal in Sydney has triggered significant changes in Spanish football, including the replacement of women’s team coach Jorge Vilda by his assistant coach Montse Tomé, the first woman to lead the team. She is due to announce her first squad soon before two UEFA Women’s Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland.

Tomé was forced to postpone her press conference as 39 players, including 21 members from the World Cup-winning squad, signed a letter demanding changes before rejoining the national team. The demands were focused on zero tolerance toward figures within the REF who had incited, covered up or applauded attitudes that debase women’s dignity.

The only two players from the winning squad who didn’t sign the joint letter were Claudia Zornoza and Athenea del Castillo. Zornoza, 32, took to social media to announce her decision to retire from international football ahead of the upcoming tournament.


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