7 Sep 2023

Hermoso takes legal action against Spanish boss over kiss

8:29 am on 7 September 2023
Spain's Jennifer Hermoso.

File photo. Spain's Jenni Hermoso. Photo: Photosport

Spanish soccer star Jenni Hermoso has lodged a criminal complaint over the unsolicited kiss by football federation boss Luis Rubiales after Spain's victory in the Women's World Cup, the national prosecutor's office said.

Hermoso gave her testimony on Tuesday and the complaint will be processed "as soon as possible", the prosecutor added.

With the complaint, Rubiales could face criminal charges in addition to the ongoing inquiry by Spain's top sport court for "serious misconduct" and an investigation by world soccer governing body FIFA, which has provisionally suspended Rubiales from office for 90 days.

Neither Hermoso's representatives nor Rubiales were immediately available for comment.

Rubiales grabbed Hermoso's head and kissed her on the lips during the medal-giving ceremony that followed Spain's 1-0 victory over England in the Women's World Cup final on 20 August.

Late last month, the prosecutor for Spain's High Court said Rubiales could face a sexual assault charge, which carries a prison term of between one and four years, if Hermoso, who lives and plays in Mexico, were to file a complaint.

The High Court has jurisdiction over the case as the incident took place abroad - in Sydney, Australia.

Hermoso said she did not want to be kissed, and that she felt "vulnerable and a victim of an aggression". Rubiales, who has so far refused to resign despite heavy pressure, said the kiss was "spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual".

Rubiales' behaviour has sparked outrage in Spain and abroad. He also grabbed his crotch while standing close to Spain's Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter during the final.

The Spanish men's team criticised the country's soccer boss on Monday for his "unacceptable behaviour", but one of the team's captains, Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal, sparked criticism later for arguably questioning Hermoso's status as victim in an interview for Spanish radio Onda Cero.

"That are legal bodies that are considering whether Jennifer is really a victim of something that is being investigated. There are people who have to decide whether there is an offender and a victim," Carvajal said on Tuesday.

"So we can't take a position or condemn one side or the other beforehand without really knowing what has happened, what has been stipulated, because Jennifer has not yet filed a complaint," he added, unaware that Hermoso had met with prosecutors and filed a criminal complaint earlier in the day.

In an effort to explain his words in a press conference on Wednesday, Carvajal went further and said that "Rubiales should be supported in the same way as Jenni Hermoso" in this process.

"I can understand that Jenni is going through a bad time, we have to show my solidarity. However, I don't think the president is having a good time either. I am not here to judge anyone," Carvajal said.

"The presumption of innocence is a constitutional right. You cannot victimise or blame anyone."

Women's team coach Jorge Vilda, a close ally of Rubiales, was sacked on Tuesday. The RFEF later announced it had appointed Montse Tome to succeed Vilda, making her the first woman to manage the side.

Ivana Andres of Spain during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarter Final - Spain v Netherlands, 2023.

Ivana Andres of Spain during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarter Final - Spain v Netherlands, 2023. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Awards blunder

Meanwhile, the Spanish Government mistakenly honoured celebrity Ivana Icardi, sister of Argentinian footballer Mauro Icardi, instead of Women's World Cup winning captain Ivana Andres, with the country's Royal Order of Sports Merit, Spain's National Sports Council (CSD) has confirmed.

CSD issued an official apology for the "human error" which they "deeply regret" after the blunder was published in Tuesday's edition of Spain's Official State Gazette (BOE).

A correction was made on Wednesday's edition, honouring the correct Ivana, who lifted Spain's first Women's World Cup.

Ivana Icardi, an Argentinian celebrity who resides in Mallorca and has participated in several Spanish reality television shows, reacted in confusion on social media.

"This really happened! How could they possibly get something like this wrong?," Icardi wrote while sharing a copy of BOE's page with her name on it.

Real Madrid defender Andres reacted to the news posting on X the viral meme of Spider-Man pointing at another Spider-Man.

However, Ivana was not the only mistake made by those in charge of the list of honorees. Midfielder Aitana Bonmati, World Cup player of the tournament and UEFA Player of the Year, also had her name misspelt in Tuesday's edition of BOE.

- Reuters