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Luis Rubiales to stand trial for World Cup kiss of footballer Jenni Hermoso


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Spain’s former football chief, Luis Rubiales, will have to stand trial over the unsolicited kiss he planted on footballer Jenni Hermoso, after the country’s high court agreed to hear the case.

The decision comes nine months after Rubiales, 46, grabbed Hermoso by the head during the televised celebrations of Spain’s World Cup win and kissed her on the lips.

Rubiales is facing an accusation of sexual assault over the kiss, as well as one of coercion following allegations that he tried to put pressure on Hermoso to publicly state that the kiss had been consensual. Spanish prosecutors are seeking a prison term of 2.5 years over the offences.

In January a judge with the high court concluded that there was enough evidence to warrant a trial. In his preliminary investigation, Judge de Jorge concluded that the former football chief’s gesture “was not consensual and was a unilateral and unexpected move”.

He said, however, that it would be up to the court to examine the legal consequences of elements such as “whether the aim was erotic or not” and “the state of euphoria and excitement due to the extraordinary sporting triumph”.

The kiss came as Hermoso and the women’s national team celebrated its trailblazing World Cup win during the official post-match ceremony last August. Video of the encounter soon went viral, swiftly overshadowing Spain’s victory.

As outrage mounted globally, Rubiales fended off calls for his resignation, instead describing the act as a “consensual peck”.

Hermoso, who ranks as Spain’s all-time top scorer, repeatedly rejected any suggestion that the kiss was consensual, instead characterising Rubiales’ description as “categorically false”.

The incident set off a reckoning with sexism in Spanish football. Its rallying cry, “se acabó” or “it’s over”, soon spilled over into other spheres, paving the way for a broader conversation about sexism in Spanish society.

On Wednesday, the high court said three others, including the former women’s team coach Jorge Vilda, would also stand trial after accusations that they too attempted to convince Hermoso to publicly state that the kiss had been consensual. Each of them could face up to 1.5 years in prison if found guilty of coercion.

News of the trial comes one month after Rubiales was briefly detained and questioned by police in a separate corruption investigation linked to his decision to overhaul the format of the Spanish Super Cup and move it to Saudi Arabia.

Rubiales has denied any charges of corruption, describing them as false claims made by Spanish media.

He has also denied any wrongdoing when it comes to the kiss. “I believe in the truth and I will do everything in my power to make sure it prevails,” he said last year as he announced he would step down as head of the federation.

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