Spanish prosecutors seek jail time for ex-football chief Luis Rubiales in sexual assault case

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Luis Rubiales

28th March 2024 – (Barcelona) Spanish prosecutors have revealed their demand of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for former football chief Luis Rubiales, who is currently facing trial for an incident in which he forcibly kissed Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso against her will. The court documents, made public on Wednesday, also state that prosecutors are seeking a minimum compensation of €50,000 (approximately $54,000) to be paid by Rubiales to Hermoso. The case is being heard at Spain’s Audiencia Nacional court.

The incident in question occurred on 20th August, immediately following Spain’s victory over England in the Women’s World Cup final in Australia. Rubiales, after holding Hermoso’s head with both hands, forcefully kissed her on the lips. The act was captured by cameras broadcasting the event live, triggering widespread outrage and leading to Rubiales’ suspension by FIFA, the global governing body for football.

Initially, Rubiales dismissed the incident as a consensual peck on the lips. However, Hermoso, aged 33, refuted his claim. According to Spanish law, an unwanted kiss can be classified as sexual assault, a criminal offence encompassing various forms of sexual violence.

Prosecutors stated in the documents that Rubiales “grabbed the player’s head with both hands and, surprisingly and without consent or the player’s acceptance, kissed her on the lips.” They further highlighted that after realizing the potential personal and professional consequences, Rubiales and his entourage exerted continuous pressure on Hermoso, attempting to coerce her into publicly justifying the incident as consensual.

The relentless pressure resulted in “anxiety and intense stress” for Hermoso over several months, as outlined by the prosecutors. The demand presented includes a one-year prison term for the act of kissing and an additional 18-month sentence for the coercion charge, totalling a sentence of two-and-a-half years for Rubiales.

Furthermore, three individuals associated with Rubiales—former women’s coach Jorge Vilda, men’s team director Albert Luque, and RFEF marketing boss Ruben Rivera—are also standing trial for allegedly pressuring Hermoso. Prosecutors have requested that Rubiales pay Hermoso €50,000 for the unwanted kiss, with the four defendants jointly responsible for paying her an additional €50,000 for the coercion charge. The exact distribution of the compensation among the defendants remains unclear.

Hermoso filed a lawsuit against Rubiales in September, stating that she faced pressure to defend him during the return flight from Australia and throughout a subsequent team holiday in Ibiza, part of the Balearic Islands.