Former Spanish Soccer Chief faces sexual assault trial over player kiss


Luis Rubiales, Spain’s former soccer chief, will stand trial on a count of sexual assault for grabbing the head of Jennifer Hermoso, a star player, and forcibly kissing her on the mouth at the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony in August.

The decision on Wednesday evening by Spain’s National Court came after a judge concluded in January that Mr. Rubiales should be held to account for the kiss, which the judge said “was nonconsensual” and within the bounds of the “intimacy of sexual relations.”

Public prosecutors and Ms. Hermoso’s lawyers are seeking a total of two and a half years of prison time for Mr. Rubiales: one year for the sexual assault charge and an additional 18 months in connection with a coercion charge. Mr. Rubiales is accused of pressuring Ms. Hermoso to show support for him after the kiss.

Three other former soccer officials, including Jorge Vilda, the former women’s team’s coach, are also accused of coercion. They could each face 18 months in prison.

The confirmation that Mr. Rubiales will face a count of sexual assault is the latest development in a high-profile case that has disrupted soccer in Spain and fueled a public reckoning about sexism and power imbalances.

Mr. Rubiales initially resisted calls to resign as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation and as a vice president of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, but he stepped down after a court issued a restraining order against him. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, barred him from the sport for three years.

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