Spain’s Hermoso testifies World Cup kiss was not consensual

Jenni Hermoso
Image caption,Jenni Hermoso outside court on Tuesday

By Ido Vock in London & Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid

BBC News

Spanish World Cup-winning footballer Jenni Hermoso has testified to a Madrid court that a kiss from former football federation president Luis Rubiales was “not consensual”.

He grabbed Ms Hermoso by the head and kissed her on the lips after the World Cup final last year.

A judge will now decide whether Mr Rubiales should be tried for sexual assault and coercion.

“All is in the hands of justice, that’s all I can say,” she told reporters.

The former federation chief denies the allegations.

Ms Hermoso, Spain’s top scorer, testified to the court for around two and a half hours, and according to Spanish media she told the judge the kiss was “unexpected and at no time consensual”.

Her evidence was said to have reiterated testimony given several months ago to prosecutors that was then leaked to Spanish TV,

The court is examining evidence including CCTV footage to decide whether to take her criminal complaint of sexual assault and coercion to trial.

The kiss took place during the medal ceremony in Sydney on 20 August last year, following Spain’s win over England.

A statement issued shortly after the final that was attributed to Ms Hermoso had indicated the kiss had been consensual. But she later complained of being pressured by officials of the Spanish football federation to put her name to the statement.

Mr Rubiales is being investigated for possible coercion over his role in the alleged pressure on Ms Hermoso.

Jorge Vilda, the coach who led the team to World Cup glory before being sacked shortly afterwards, is also being investigated along with Albert Luque and Rubén Rivera, both federation executives.

Ms Hermoso said she did not want to be kissed and that she felt that she had been a “victim of assault”. Under Spanish law a kiss without consent can be deemed a form of sexual assault.

Mr Rubiales has always maintained the kiss was a “consensual peck” but in the wake of the incident he was forced to resign as president of the Spanish football federation.

Prosecutors opened an investigation and last September he was barred by investigating judge Francisco de Jorge from going within 200m (650ft) of the footballer.

In a statement to prosecutors leaked to Spanish TV in October, Ms Hermoso said that “clearly I felt disrespected” as a player and a person.

“I didn’t do anything to land myself in that situation… how could I expect it in that scenario of a medal ceremony at a World Cup final?”

Ms Hermoso, 33, announced on Monday that she was changing clubs. She is leaving Mexico’s Pachuca, where she has played since 2022, for Tigres UANL, the country’s most successful women’s side.

Her role in the controversy has made her a prominent public figure beyond the football world.

On New Year’s Eve, she was a guest of national broadcaster TVE. She said she was grateful for “this change we are bringing about in terms of equality and solidarity”, and she congratulated her Spain teammates for “the empowerment we have achieved”.

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