The judge investigating potential charges over Luis Rubiales’ kiss on Jenni Hermoso after this summer’s Women’s World Cup final has recommended the case go to trial.
National Court (Audencia Nacional) judge Francisco de Jorge has also proposed trying former Spain women’s team manager Jorge Vilda, ex-Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) marketing manager Ruben Rivera, and RFEF men’s national team director Albert Luque, the ex-Newcastle United striker.
Rubiales grabbed Hermoso by the head and kissed her on the lips after Spain’s World Cup final win over England on August 20 in Sydney, Australia, as she received her winner’s medal.
In a statement released by the National Court on Thursday morning, De Jorge said there was evidence the kiss was “not consensual”.
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It added: “The investigation has revealed the existence of solid evidence that the kiss to the player Jennifer Hermoso, which is described in the facts of this order, was a unilateral and surprising initiative of the investigated Luis Manuel Rubiales Bejar.”
Rubiales, who at first refused to resign as RFEF president over the incident, before eventually stepping down after being provisionally sanctioned by FIFA, has always claimed Hermoso did give consent for him to kiss her. Hermoso has testified that the kiss was not consensual, and that attempts were made to force her into saying the opposite.
De Jorge has been investigating Rubiales, who was banned for three years from all football-related activities by world governing body FIFA in October, on two potential charges: of sexual assault and coercion. Luque, Rivera and Vilda, who is now in charge of Morocco’s women’s team, were being investigated on the potential charge of coercion — which they have denied.
Thursday’s National Court statement said judge De Jorge “considers that there are indications of the existence of a concerted action” conducted by Luque, Rivera and Vilda — and “agreed with Rubiales” — to “break the will of Jennifer Hermoso” by “getting her to agree to record a video in which said that the kiss had been consensual”.
It said De Jorge “appreciated that there is sufficient evidence” for the case to proceed to an “oral trial” and that “an accusation (was) perfectly sustainable”, adding that the “legal consequences will have to be assessed in the oral and public trial before the body in charge of the prosecution”.
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(THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)