9 May 2024

Luis Rubiales to stand trial over World Cup kiss

11:50 am on 9 May 2024
Former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales

Former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales Photo: AFP

The former head of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales, will stand trial for sexual assault over his unsolicited kiss to Women's World Cup player, Jenni Hermoso.

The kiss, which Hermoso said was "unwanted", happened at last year's FIFA World Cup and made global headlines.

Rubiales was forced to resign, but has denied any wrongdoing.

A Spanish High Court judge said on Wednesday Rubiales was also facing one charge of coercion.

The scandal overshadowed a historic moment for Spain's women's team, which at the time was celebrating its first ever World Cup win on 20 August 2023.

During the trophy presentation ceremony, Rubiales clasped Hermoso's head between his hands and planted a kiss on her lips.

It was broadcast to billions worldwide, sparking fierce backlash and a national sexism debate in Spain.

Rubiales, 46, has strenuously denied wrongdoing and said the kiss was consensual and he was the victim of a "social assassination".

However, Hermoso and her teammates claimed it was unwanted and demeaning.

Jenni Hermoso of Spain celebrates

Jenni Hermoso of Spain Photo: AFP

Rubiales faces one count of sexual assault, which carries a prison term of a year.

He will also be tried for coercion alongside the former coach of the women's national team, Jorge Vilda, the team's current sporting director, Albert Luque, and the federation's head of marketing, Ruben Rivera.

All four men, who have denied wrongdoing, are accused of trying to pressure Hermoso into saying the kiss was consensual.

They could each face up to 18 months in jail if convicted.

The trial will be held at the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. The date has not yet been confirmed.

The court has set a bail of €65,000 (NZ$116,000) for Rubiales' charge of sexual assault to be paid within 24 hours to cover "any civil liabilities he may be ordered to pay", AFP news reported.

A further bail of €65,000 is to be posted jointly between Rubiales, Vilda, Luque and Riveria on the charges of coercion.

- This story was first published by the BBC

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