Spanish state prosecutors have accused Luis Rubiales, the suspended president of the Spanish soccer federation, of sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales allegedly kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony after Spain won the Women’s World Cup final on August 20 in Sydney, Australia. Prosecutors presented the case against Rubiales to Spain’s National Court in Madrid following Hermoso’s formal accusation of sexual assault. If found guilty, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years under a sexual consent law passed last year.
Prosecutors have also suggested that Rubiales may have committed an act of coercion by pressuring Hermoso to speak out in his defense after the scandal emerged. Rubiales has maintained that the kiss was consensual, while Hermoso and her players’ union have denied this claim.
Prosecutors have requested that Rubiales appear before a court to provide preliminary testimony. If the National Court judge agrees to hear the case, a formal court investigation will be conducted, which will ultimately result in a recommendation for the case to be dismissed or proceed to trial.
In addition to potential criminal charges, Rubiales faces other consequences. FIFA suspended him from his post for 90 days, and the Spanish government has initiated a probe to determine if he abused his authority or tarnished Spain’s image. Rubiales’ behavior at the final, including a lewd crotch grab, has led to criticism and damaged the Women’s World Cup title and the reputation of the Spanish soccer federation.
The accusation against Rubiales comes at a time when Spain’s women’s league players have begun a strike due to failed salary negotiations. The league, known as Liga F, was among the first to criticize Rubiales’ conduct.
Luis Rubiales, a former player and head of Spain’s largest players’ union, has been the president of the Spanish soccer federation since 2018. He has made efforts to boost revenues and funding for lower-level soccer and the women’s game, but his tenure has been marred by scandal.