Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales and Spain star Jennifer Hermoso.
Spanish star player Jennifer Hermoso has filed an official complaint with prosecutors against the president of the country’s soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, over an unwanted kiss after the Women’s World Cup final.
The complaint was filed on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Spanish prosecutor’s office told CNN. “The statement was made at the office of the state attorney general to protect the privacy of the victim,” the spokesperson said.
Spanish prosecutors had opened an investigation into Rubiales on August 28, saying they would contact her within two weeks to “inform her of her rights as a victim of an alleged crime of sexual aggression.”
Hermoso’s legal complaint is the next step required for the Spanish justice system to proceed with a case against Rubiales, who has refused to quit as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
Rubiales has apologized and described the kiss after the Spanish national team’s victory at the World Cup final on August 20 as “mutual” – a claim Hermoso denied, saying she was not respected. FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, suspended Rubiales for 90 days while disciplinary proceedings are underway.
Last week, the Spanish Court of Arbitration in Sport (TAD) agreed to open a case against Rubiales but rejected the government’s argument that his offenses were “very serious,” preventing his immediate suspension and forcing ministers to ask the tribunal to do it instead.
The unwanted kiss has prompted a major shake-up in Spanish soccer, with the government pushing for Rubiales to resign and RFEF removing Jorge Vilda from his role as coach of the women’s national team. He was replaced by Montse Tomé, the first woman in Spanish national team history to hold the position.
Hermoso’s legal complaint is the latest development in a story which began when video from the World Cup medal ceremony on August 20 showed Rubiales embracing the Spain star, then putting both hands on her head before forcibly kissing her. He then patted her on the back as she walked away.
Later, Hermoso said of the kiss, “Hey, I didn’t like it, eh,” as she apparently answered questions about the incident in an Instagram live video from a celebratory locker room.
It would be several days, on August 25, before Hermoso spoke out again on social media after Rubiales defiantly refused to step down as RFEF president, saying, “I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part … Simply put, I was not respected.”
More than 80 Spanish soccer players then put their name on a statement supporting Hermoso and saying they would not return to the national team “if the current leaders continue” in their posts.
Interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha then began to make moves as part of his “regeneration” of the federation, firing controversial coach Vilda despite his unprecedented World Cup win and appointing his deputy, Tomé. Rocha then vowed in a meeting with the president of the High Council of Sport, Víctor Francos, to make more “structural changes” in RFEF.
It is unclear at this point if the changes made to date – including the suspension of Rubiales and Vilda’s sacking – will convince the players to come back to the national team, which has a Women’s Nations League match against Sweden on September 22.
However, speaking to radio station Cadena COPE on Tuesday, former Spain captain – and one of the 80 signatories on the statement – Verónica Boquete said that replacing Vilda as head coach of the team wasn’t enough.
“The change we’re talking about isn’t about changing one president for another, it isn’t changing one coach for another, it’s about making a much deeper change,” Boquete said. “And well, this ‘patch job’ makes us think that they [the federation] still don’t understand the root of the problem. … [but] I think [the players] will come back.”