Soccer Sports

Luis Rubiales, Ex-Chief of Spanish Soccer, to Face Trial Over World Cup Kiss

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A decide with Spain’s Nationwide Court docket recommended on Thursday that the nation’s onetime soccer boss, Luis Rubiales, be tried on a sexual assault cost over his non-consensual kiss of a star participant in the course of the Ladies’s World Cup medal ceremony in Sydney, Australia, final summer time.

If discovered responsible of sexual assault within the case, which upended Spanish girls’s soccer and set off a debate concerning the legacy of sexism within the sport in Spain, Mr. Rubiales would face a jail sentence of 1 to 4 years.

The decide additionally advisable that Mr. Rubiales and three officers with the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation, soccer’s governing physique within the nation — together with Jorge Vilda, who was fired as the ladies’s group coach within the wake of the incident — be tried on prices of coercion for exerting stress on the participant, Jennifer Hermoso, to indicate assist for Mr. Rubiales within the rapid aftermath of the kiss.

The decide concluded that the kiss by Mr. Rubiales “was non-consensual and was a unilateral and shock act.”

Public prosecutors and Ms. Hermoso now have 10 days to formalize their accusations, after which a trial will happen.

The ruling was the fruits of a pretrial inquiry, presided over by the decide, Francisco de Jorge, by which witnesses together with Ms. Hermoso, officers and different gamers gave proof relating to sexual assault accusations in opposition to Mr. Rubiales in a closed-door listening to that ended on Jan. 2. The decide additionally examined movies of the kiss from quite a few angles and a video recorded on a bus after the medal ceremony, by which Ms. Hermoso initially appeared to make mild of the incident.

Ms. Hermoso, who is predicted to play for Spain within the Paris Olympic Video games this summer time if the nation qualifies, was not instantly obtainable for remark.

The participant filed a legal criticism in opposition to Mr. Rubiales in September, two and a half weeks after he forcefully kissed her on the lips, on reside tv, on the rostrum because the group celebrated its victory over England within the World Cup last. That criticism cleared the way in which for public prosecutors to open a case in opposition to Mr. Rubiales.

Even Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez waded into the post-match fray, calling the kiss “unacceptable.”

Mr. Rubiales initially provided a halfhearted apology for his conduct. However he later tried to shift the blame onto Ms. Hermoso, saying that she had “moved me near her physique” in the course of the embrace. After a defiant speech by which he refused to resign and railed in opposition to what he known as “false feminism,” he obtained a standing ovation from his colleagues on the soccer federation.

In response, members of Spain’s girls’s nationwide soccer squad and dozens of different gamers signed an ultimatum, vowing that they might not take the sector for his or her nation — probably blowing Spain’s probabilities of an Olympic ticket — “if the present managers proceed.”

As public consideration on working circumstances in Spanish girls’s soccer grew, gamers from Spain’s skilled golf equipment disrupted the league’s opening weekends in September by staging a strike over low pay, maternity depart and harassment protocol.

Mr. Rubiales initially resisted requires his resignation. However when a courtroom issued a restraining order in opposition to him lower than a month after the World Cup last, he stepped down as president of the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation and as a vp of UEFA, European soccer’s governing physique.

By October, FIFA — soccer’s governing physique, which initially suspended him for 90 days over the incident — had barred him from the game for 3 years.

Mr. Rubiales can be the topic of an investigation by anticorruption prosecutors over irregularities in the usage of federation funds.

Different heads have additionally rolled. Mr. Vilda, a detailed Rubiales ally who in 2022 was dogged by accusations of controlling conduct towards nationwide squad gamers, was fired because the group’s coach in September, regardless of main the group to victory within the World Cup a month earlier. He was changed by Spain’s first feminine nationwide coach, Montse Tomé.

Mark A. Walsh contributed reporting from London.