Judge Backs Trial for Luis Rubiales, Ex-Chief of Spanish Soccer, Over World Cup Kiss

A choose with Spain’s National Court recommended on Thursday that the nation’s onetime soccer boss, Luis Rubiales, be tried on a sexual assault cost over his non-consensual kiss of a star participant in the course of the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony in Sydney, Australia, final summer season.

If discovered responsible of sexual assault within the case, which upended Spanish ladies’s soccer and set off a debate in regards to the legacy of sexism within the sport in Spain, Mr. Rubiales would face a jail sentence of one to 4 years.

The choose additionally advisable that Mr. Rubiales and three officers with the Royal Spanish Football Federation, soccer’s governing physique within the nation — together with Jorge Vilda, who was fired as the ladies’s crew coach within the wake of the incident — be tried on costs of coercion for exerting stress on the participant, Jennifer Hermoso, to point out assist for Mr. Rubiales within the quick aftermath of the kiss.

The ruling was the end result of a pretrial inquiry, presided over by the choose, Francisco de Jorge, during which witnesses together with Ms. Hermoso, officers and different gamers gave proof concerning sexual assault accusations towards Mr. Rubiales in a closed-door listening to that ended on Jan. 2. The choose additionally examined movies of the kiss from quite a few angles and a video recorded on a bus after the medal ceremony, during which Ms. Hermoso initially appeared to make mild of the incident.

Ms. Hermoso, who is predicted to play for Spain within the Paris Olympic Games this summer season if the nation qualifies, was not instantly obtainable for remark.

The participant filed a legal grievance towards Mr. Rubiales in September, two and a half weeks after he forcefully kissed her on the lips, on reside tv, on the rostrum because the crew celebrated its victory over England within the World Cup ultimate. That grievance cleared the best way for public prosecutors to open a case towards Mr. Rubiales.

Even Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez waded into the post-match fray, calling the kiss “unacceptable.”

Mr. Rubiales initially provided a halfhearted apology for his conduct. But he later tried to shift the blame onto Ms. Hermoso, saying that she had “moved me close to her body” in the course of the embrace. After a defiant speech during which he refused to resign and railed towards what he referred to as “false feminism,” he acquired a standing ovation from his colleagues on the soccer federation.

In response, members of Spain’s ladies’s nationwide soccer squad and dozens of different gamers signed an ultimatum, vowing that they might not take the sphere for their nation — doubtlessly blowing Spain’s probabilities of an Olympic ticket — “if the current managers continue.”

As public consideration on working situations in Spanish ladies’s soccer grew, gamers from Spain’s skilled golf equipment disrupted the league’s opening weekends in September by staging a strike over low pay, maternity go away and harassment protocol.

Mr. Rubiales initially resisted calls for his resignation. But when a court docket issued a restraining order towards him lower than a month after the World Cup ultimate, he stepped down as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation and as a vp of UEFA, European soccer’s governing physique.

By October, FIFA — soccer’s governing physique, which initially suspended him for 90 days over the incident — had barred him from the game for three years.

Mr. Rubiales can also be the topic of an investigation by anticorruption prosecutors over irregularities within the use of federation funds.

Other heads have additionally rolled. Mr. Vilda, an in depth Rubiales ally who in 2022 was dogged by accusations of controlling conduct towards nationwide squad gamers, was fired because the crew’s coach in September, regardless of main the crew to victory within the World Cup a month earlier. He was changed by Spain’s first feminine nationwide coach, Montse Tomé.

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