Spanish prosecutors have requested that Luis Rubiales is banned from going within 500 metres of women’s World Cup player Jenni Hermoso or contact her as he made his first court appearance for allegedly forcibly kissing the footballer.
Rubiales, 46, was summoned to Madrid’s Audencia Nacional court to where he denied allegations of sexual assault and coercion filed by Hermosa, the prosecutor leading the case said.
State prosecutors asked Judge Francisco de Jorge to consider issuing a restraining order to prohibit Rubiales from coming within 500 meters or Hermoso or trying to communicate with her, as well as a requirement for him to check in with a court every 15 days to ensure he does not flee the country.
The judge will have to decide whether to apply those measures.
Rubiales, wearing a navy suit and white shirt, did not speak before entering the courthouse with his lawyer. He testified before Judge Francisco de Jorge – who is leading the investigation into the kiss. Hermoso will also be called to testify at a later date.
Spanish state prosecutors formally accused Rubiales last week of alleged sexual assault and an act of coercion when, according to Hermoso, he pressured her to speak out in his defence immediately after the scandal erupted.
The state prosecutors’ office said Rubiales denied both accusations when answering questions by the judge in an hour-long hearing that was closed to the public.
Rubiales sparked outrage when he grabbed the midfielder and kissed her on the lips in front of horrified spectators after Spain defeated England 1-0 in the World Cup final on August 20. He said she had consented to the kiss, but Hermoso has denied that repeatedly.
Rubiales arriving at the high court in Madrid today to face sexual assault charges
Rubiales is the former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation
The 46-year-old has been summoned to Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional court where he will appear before Judge Francisco de Jorge who is heading up the investigation
Five days after resigning as Spain ‘s football chief, Rubiales is due in court on sexual assault charges over forcibly kissing women’s World Cup player Jenni Hermoso
Rubiales, who was head of Spain’s RFEF football federation at the time, has repeatedly insisted the kiss was consensual.
But Hermoso has said it was not and left her feeling like the ‘victim of an assault’.
Jude De Jorge on Monday admitted a complaint against Rubiales filed the previous week by the public prosecutors’ office, citing alleged ‘offences of sexual assault’ and ‘coercion’.
Under a recent reform of the Spanish penal code, a non-consensual kiss can be considered sexual assault, a category which groups all types of sexual violence.
Judge De Jorge is carrying out the preliminary investigation into the accusations against Rubiales, and will then decide whether the case should go to trial.
If found guilty of sexual assault, Rubiales could face anything from a fine to four years in prison, sources at the public prosecutors’ office have said.
In their complaint, prosecutors said they had included the offence of coercion because of Hermoso’s statement in which she said ‘she and those close to her had suffered constant ongoing pressure by Luis Rubiales and his professional entourage to justify and condone’ his actions.
The global furore over the incident all but eclipsed the victory celebrations for Spain’s World Cup champions.
After three weeks of refusing to resign over the kiss, Rubiales, who was suspended by FIFA on August 26, stood down late on Sunday but continued to insist the kiss was consensual in a TV interview with Britain’s Piers Morgan.
Former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales arrives at the high court in Madrid today
He claims the fury over ‘kissgate’ is due to a misunderstanding of Latin culture in a TalkTv interview with Piers Morgan
Rubiales is facing sexual assault charges for kissing Spanish player Jennifer Hermoso on the lips without consent after Spain’s 1-0 win against England in the World Cup final on August 20
‘What we had is a spontaneous act, a mutual act, an act that both consented to, which was driven by the emotion of the moment,’ he said, describing the kiss as ‘100 percent non-sexual’.
He claimed the fury over the kiss is due to a misunderstanding of Latin culture and insisted he would have done the same to a male player.
Rubiales said: ‘We were both emotional. We congratulated each other, I asked her “can I give you a quick peck?” – which is normal in our country – I give her a quick peck, I think she gave me one or two slaps in my side and that was it.
‘No intention of course, no sexual connotation or anything, just a moment of happiness, just great joy in that moment.’
The hearing comes with new coach Montse Tome, the first woman to lead the team, set to announce her squad on Friday for UEFA Women’s Nations League matches against Sweden and Switzerland on September 22 and 26.
Her first job will be to try and convince the 23 world champions to don the red jersey again after they and dozens of others said they would not play for the national team without significant changes at the head of the federation.
The players have not yet said what they will do following Rubiales’ resignation although the situation has changed since the RFEF sacked their controversial coach Jorge Vilda, named Tome in his stead and pledged further internal reforms.
‘We have had discussions.. I don’t think there will be any problem,’ Rafael del Amo, head of the RFEF’s women’s football committee told Cope radio on Tuesday.
‘I think things will move forward.’