Hermoso testifies in sexual assault case against Rubiales

Jenni Hermoso, the Spanish player kissed on the lips by the president of her country’s soccer federation in the Women’s World Cup final in August, appeared in court on Tuesday to testify in the sexual assault case against the former official.

Hermoso was on the Madrid field to give his version of Luis Rubiales’ kiss after Spain’s victory over England in the Sydney final.

“Everything went well,” Hermoso told reporters afterward. “The judicial process will continue its course and thank you for the support that many of you have given me.”

The incident sparked outrage throughout the football world and unleashed one of the worst crises in the history of sport in Spain. It also led to a boycott of the national team by World Cup-winning players, and the eventual resignation of Rubiales despite denying any wrongdoing and claiming the kiss was consensual.

Hermoso was expected to reiterate in court her accusations that the kiss was unwanted and Rubiales and his staff attempted to pressure her and her family to downplay the incident that marred Spain’s first Women’s World Cup title.

Testimony was expected behind closed doors, and Spanish media said Hermoso asked the judge to keep his court appearance as private as possible. She arrived dressed in a gray coat and greeted reporters before entering the court through one of the main entrances along with her attorneys.

Spanish state prosecutors accused Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion, alleging that he tried to convince Hermoso and her relatives to publicly downplay the kiss.

The judge is also hearing testimony from other World Cup-winning players, coaches and federation officials before deciding whether to start a trial.

Rubiales previously denied wrongdoing before the judge who imposed a restraining order against him from contacting Hermoso.

Hermoso, 33, the record scorer for the Spanish women’s team, said last year that she received threats as a result of the kiss, although she did not give further details.

Hermoso became something of a celebrity in Spain after denouncing the kiss and helping promote the “Me Too” movement in the country. She was one of the New Year’s Eve presenters on public television on Saturday, calling for a 2024 with more equality.

The boycott of the national team ended last year after players received trade guarantees within the federation following intervention by government officials.

According to the Madrid prosecutor’s office, based on a sexual consent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if convicted. The new law eliminated the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault,” punishing any non-consensual sexual act.

Rubiales was banned by FIFA for three years until after the 2026 men’s World Cup. His ban will expire before the next women’s tournament in 2027.

He resigned as president of the federation and vice-president of UEFA on September 10 amid growing pressure in Spain from lawmakers and players. A day later, UEFA thanked Rubiales for his service.

Hermoso signed for Mexican champion Tigres Femenil on Monday after leaving rival Pachuca.

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