Former Spanish soccer president given restraining order in World Cup forced kiss case

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(NEW YORK) — The former president of Spain’s soccer federation Luis Rubiales was hit with a restraining order in court Friday over a complaint of sexual assault following his allegedly nonconsensual kiss with player Jenni Hermoso at the Women’s World Cup final in Australia last month.

Rubiales also faces a charge of coercion after Hermoso alleged she and her relatives were pressured by Rubiales and his office to say that she approved of the kiss.

Rubiales pleaded not guilty to the charges in front of Judge Francisco de Jorge in Spain’s National Court.

The judge rejected a request by the prosecution that Rubiales should report to court every two weeks, but he ordered the former soccer federation president from contacting or coming within 200 meters of Hermoso.

“We maintain what we’ve said from the beginning. It was a nonconsensual kiss,” Hermoso’s lawyer Carla Vall i Duran told reporters, according to ESPN. “Thanks to the [images of the kiss], the entire world, the entire country, has been able to observe there was no type of consent. And we are going to prove that in the courtroom.”

The kiss at the Aug. 20 medal ceremony, which Hermoso has said was not consensual, ignited protests in Spain and around the world, with many decrying sexism in Spanish sports and society and its perpetuation by the male-led leadership of the soccer federation.

Hours after Rubiales’ appearance in court, 39 Spanish soccer players, including Hermoso, signed a statement asking for further changes in the soccer federation. “The changes made as of today are not enough to allow players to feel in a safe space, where women are respected,” the statement reads.

Rubiales, 46, resigned on Sept. 10 after having been suspended by the soccer international governing body FIFA.

The preliminary investigation was opened by Spain’s district attorney after Hermoso accused Rubiales formally on Sept. 6.

The investigation will decide whether the case should go to trial. If found guilty, Rubiales could face between one and four years of imprisonment. Spanish law was amended last year to a so-called “Only Yes is Yes” law, eliminating the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault” and sanctioning any non-consensual sexual act.

Hermoso broke her silence on the World Cup encounter after Rubiales’ speech last month at the Royal Spanish Football Federation assembly where he claimed the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual” and said he would not resign. In a statement later on the same day, the player declared that she never consented.

She said in a statement in August that the “kiss was not consensual” and that she “felt vulnerable and the victim of aggression, an impulsive, sexist act,” according to ESPN.

“We had the fleeting kiss, two-tenths of a second, but what was created from that is crazy,” Rubiales said in a TalkTV interview with Piers Morgan.

As part of the investigation, Judge de Jorge has obtained videos of the incident from “every angle,” El Mundo reported.

Spain’s deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz said Rubiales’s actions were “shameful” and said they showed the systemic nature of male chauvinism in Spanish society.

 

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