MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish soccer star Jenni Hermoso testified in Madrid High Court on Tuesday over the kiss she said football federation chief Luis Rubiales planted on her lips without her consent after Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup last summer.
Hermoso spent around 2-1/2 hours speaking behind closed doors to investigating judge Francisco de Jorge, who is examining evidence including television footage before deciding whether to approve charges and advance the case to trial.
She told reporters as she left the court accompanied by her lawyer: “All is in the hands of justice, that’s all I can say… the process will take its course.”
The 33-year-old forward – Spain’s all-time top scorer – lodged a criminal complaint of sexual assault and coercion in September over the kiss on the winners’ podium on Aug. 20, saying she had not wanted to be kissed, and that she felt “vulnerable and a victim of an aggression”.
Rubiales, who resigned as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Sept. 10 amid heavy pressure, after previously refusing to go, said the kiss was “spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual”.
The case sent shock waves through the sporting world and society in Spain and abroad, prompting protests and further accusations by women that prominent or powerful men had forced intimacy on them. In Spain, the social media hashtag #SeAcabo (“It’s over”), became a rallying cry.
As well as possible criminal charges, Rubiales faces an inquiry by Spain’s top sport court over alleged “serious misconduct”, and world soccer governing body FIFA has banned him from office for three years.
In August, High Court prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil said the sexual assault charge that Rubiales might face carried a prison term of between one and four years.
She said Hermoso had said in her complaint that she and her relatives were put under pressure by Rubiales and his entourage to say that she “justified and approved what happened”.
Judge Francisco de Jorge imposed a restraining order to prevent Rubiales from approaching Hermoso when he appeared before him in mid-September.
(Reporting by Guillermo Martinez and Elena Rodriguez, writing by Aislinn Laing, editing by Mark Heinrich)