HomeFootballSpanish football bosses flew to Ibiza to harass star Jenni Hermoso -...

Spanish football bosses flew to Ibiza to harass star Jenni Hermoso – report


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Picture shows a mural by Italian street artist Salvatore Benintende aka TvBoy which depicts Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales kissing Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso,
Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

By Michelle Rimmer for ABC News

Videos of Spanish football player Jenni Hermoso sunbaking on a yacht in Ibiza made global headlines in the days after last year’s World Cup final.

Spain’s women’s team had just won the sport’s most prestigious competition in Sydney and were on the party island to celebrate.

The star striker appeared in good spirits, laughing and wakeboarding in photos and videos posted on social media, despite a debate raging around her sparked by a kiss planted on her in the moments after the match from Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales.

But behind the scenes, it’s alleged Hermoso, her friends and family were being harassed and intimidated by some of the most powerful men in Spanish football.

Court documents filed by prosecutors in Madrid allege RFEF marketing director Rubén Rivera and women’s sports director Albert Luque turned up in Ibiza, but not to join the party.

The documents allege the duo’s mission was to get Hermoso to record a video statement backing Rubiales, and that when she refused, things went south.

According to the documents, Luque allegedly sent several WhatsApp messages to Hermoso’s friend expressing his anger and accusing the striker of “being a bad person, wishing her to be very lonely in life and announcing that he would be happy if that happened”.

The allegations contained in the documents set out a timeline of how a saga that started in Sydney exploded over subsequent days, first behind the scenes and later, into the global spotlight.

Spain beat England 1-0 in the final at Stadium Australia on 20 August, but their victory celebrations took a turn when Rubiales grabbed Hermoso’s head and kissed her on the lips as she received her winner’s medal on stage.

While no one is denying the incident took place – it happened in front of a packed crowd and television audience of millions – there was a fierce debate about whether the kiss was consensual in the days that followed.

Spain's Jennifer Hermoso.

Jenni Hermoso.
Photo: Photosport

Rubiales was subsequently charged with sexual assault, something he denies. Spanish prosecutors last month asked for a jail sentence if Rubiales was convicted.

Court documents submitted by the Spanish prosecutor’s office allege the kiss was just the start of a series of criminal offences Rubiales and his executive team subjected Hermoso to in the days after the final.

Public prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil is also pursuing charges of coercion against four men within the RFEF: Rubiales, then-women’s team coach Jorge Vilda, Rivera and Luque.

All the men deny the allegations, including that they tried to pressure Hermoso into downplaying the kiss and that they harassed the star and her friends and family.

The documents allege Rubiales exerted “constant and repeated acts of pressure” on Hermoso, with “the aim of publicly justifying and approving the kiss”.

These acts of pressure are alleged to have begun immediately after the medal presentation ceremony in Sydney, with Rubiales asking for Hermoso to be sent out of the change rooms at Stadium Australia to speak with him.

“At this early state, Luis Rubiales had already urged the player to make a public statement about her acceptance of the kiss, which she did not agree with,” Durantez Gil said in her written statement, filed with the court.

It’s alleged that Hermoso was then ordered to get off the team bus while travelling to Sydney airport to sign a press release drafted by the RFEF communications team, which was sent to the media despite the athlete not agreeing with its contents.

The statement said: “It was a totally spontaneous mutual gesture due to the immense joy of winning a World Cup. The president and I have a great relationship, his behaviour towards us has been excellent and it was a natural gesture of affection and gratitude”.

On the flight from Australia to Spain after the match, Rubiales is accused of repeatedly approaching Hermoso to persuade her to make a joint public statement exonerating him for the kiss.

When she refused, the prosecution alleges, Vilda – who was the team’s coach at the time – approached Hermoso’s family, who were on the same flight, and told her brother she would face negative consequences “both personally and in her professional career as a footballer” if she didn’t record a video statement during their stopover in Doha.

“Jennifer suffered a situation of harassment that prevented her from living her life in peace, tranquillity and freedom,” Durantez Gil said in the documents.

Attempts to coerce Hermoso to make a statement absolving Rubiales are alleged to have continued during the team trip to Ibiza, which began two days after the final.

The court documents allege that the defendants’ harassment of Hermoso ended when Rubiales was provisionally suspended by the sports global governing body, FIFA, on 26 August.

He formally resigned from his role as RFEF president 16 days later.

Former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales leaves the Audiencia Nacional court in Madrid on September 15, 2023.

Luis Rubiales.
Photo: AFP

If found guilty, the Spanish prosecutor has recommended 18-month prison terms for all four defendants for coercion and an additional year for Rubiales for sexual assault.

The unwanted kiss coincided with a significant change to Spain’s sexual assault laws, which now enforce prison terms of one to four years for anyone who “commits any act against the sexual autonomy of another person without his/her consent”.

The legal overhaul was triggered by nationwide protests over a gang rape at a festival in 2016. This case is the most high-profile test of the new legislation.

Rubiales has repeatedly denied sexually assaulting the star forward and claims he received permission from Hermoso before kissing her on the lips.

Hermoso denied giving permission and has previously said the incident left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of aggression”, in a statement she posted on social media.

In an interview with Spanish TV program La Sexta last week, Rubiales said he was facing trial over the kiss “because I am a man”.

“Whoever sees the images… I can’t understand that anyone would consider it a sexual assault,” Rubiales said.

In response to the allegations of coercion, he said that he “only spoke 10 or 15 seconds with Miss Hermoso”.

The interview was broadcast a day after Rubiales was arrested as part of a separate investigation into allegations of corruption and money laundering at the RFEF during his time as president – something he also denies.

While Rubiales and Vilda no longer work for the RFEF, both Luque and Rivera continue to receive salaries despite being suspended from the organisation while they await trial.

No dates have been set for a potential future trial over the coercion charges the four men are facing, and sexual assault Rubiales is alleged to have committed.

– This story was first published by ABC

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