|Following Rubiales' decision not to step down, Jenni Hermoso has gone on to accuse the Spanish football chief of sexual assault. (Photo credit: GOAL)|
The prosecutor's office in Spain announced on Wednesday that Jenni Hermoso, the country's title-winning hero, has charged Luis Rubiales with sexual assault for kissing her on the lips without her permission following the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup final.
After Spain defeated England to win the title on August 20 in Sydney, Rubiales, the now-suspended president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), gave Hermoso a kiss on the lips during the awards ceremony.
Apart from being charged criminally, Rubiales is still being investigated by FIFA, the world governing body, and Spain's highest sports court, TAD.
Spanish prosecutors gave Hermoso the chance to lodge a complaint against Rubiales on August 28, announcing the start of a preliminary inquiry into his behavior. According to sources who spoke with ESPN, Hermoso, 33, had 15 days to formally file the complaint, which he did this week in person.
After the incident, Hermoso stated in an August statement that the "kiss was not consensual" and that she "felt vulnerable and the victim of aggression, an impulsive, sexist act."
Previously, Rubiales had stated that the
kiss—which he called a "little peck"—was given voluntarily.
According to current Spanish law, attorney Ignacio Alvarez Serrano, an associate at Gomez-Acebo & Pombo, told ESPN last week that Rubiales' actions "may be deemed sexual harassment."
On August 27, Rubiales was suspended by FIFA for defying their demands to step down. The day before, he had boldly addressed his federation's general congress, claiming he was the target of a "witch hunt" by "false feminists."
The women's team coach of Spain, Jorge Vilda, was fired on Tuesday due to the ongoing fallout from Rubiales' post-World Cup actions, which included aggressively grabbing his crotch and giving other players indecent hugs and kisses.
Vilda, who has come under fire for supporting Rubiales' non-resignation statement two weeks prior, had Rubiales' support in September when fifteen players declined to participate in the Spain squad until specific adjustments were made to the lineup.
Vilda remained silent about Rubiales' actions at the World Cup final at first. But this month, Vilda issued a statement denouncing Rubiales' "improper behavior" following the resignations of five staff employees for the senior and youth women's teams, two coaches for the women's youth teams, and four assistant coaches for Spain's senior team.