A Spanish judge proposed on Thursday that former Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales face trial over the kiss he forced on Women’s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso.
Following a preliminary investigation, judge Francisco de Jorge of Spain’s Audiencia Nacional top criminal court concluded that the kiss “was not consensual and was a unilateral and unexpected move” by Rubiales. Rubiales is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion.
The judge also suggested putting three others on trial for subsequently pressuring Hermoso, 33, “to make a public statement confirming the kiss was consensual”: former women’s coach Jorge Vilda, men’s team director Albert Luque, and RFEF marketing boss Ruben Rivera.
All three have been investigated by the judge.
The incident occurred on August 20, live in front of the cameras after Spain beat England to win the Women’s World Cup final in Australia. Rubiales forcibly kissed Hermoso on the lips, holding her head in both hands. While Rubiales described it as “a consensual peck,” Hermoso insisted it was not.
In his ruling, De Jorge acknowledged questions about the nature of the kiss and its context but stated that a kiss on the lips “affects the sphere of intimacy reserved for sexual relations, in particular when it involved two adults.”
He also noted evidence of “a concerted effort” by Vilda, Luque, and Rivera, in agreement with Rubiales, “to persuade Jennifer Hermoso and get her to agree to make a video saying the kiss was consensual.”
Such actions, the judge concluded, “could constitute a criminal offence linked to the main offence” attributed to Rubiales.
The kiss led to Rubiales’ suspension by FIFA and prompted widespread outrage. Under Spanish law, a non-consensual kiss can be considered sexual assault, with penalties ranging from a fine to four years in prison.
Hermoso filed a lawsuit against Rubiales in September and testified before the judge earlier this month. She described facing “constant harassment by the parties under investigation, which disrupted her normal life, causing her anxiety and distress.”
Numerous other witnesses, including two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and two other Spanish teammates, testified before the judge about the pressure faced by Hermoso.