HomeSportsThe world watched an unwanted kiss. Now court documents have revealed allegations...

The world watched an unwanted kiss. Now court documents have revealed allegations about what happened next


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Videos of Spanish soccer 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 Ms Hermoso, her friends and family were being harassed and intimidated by some of the most powerful men in Spanish soccer. 

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 Ms Hermoso to record a video statement backing Mr Rubiales, and that when she refused, things went south.

According to the documents, Mr Luque allegedly sent several WhatsApp messages to Ms 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.

Several members of the Spanish soccer team went to Ibiza after their victory to celebrate. (Europa Press via Getty Image: Francisco Guerra)

Spain beat England 1-0 in the final at Stadium Australia on August 20, 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.

Mr Rubiales was subsequently charged with sexual assault, something he denies. Spanish prosecutors last month asked for a jail sentence if Mr 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 Mr Rubiales and his executive team subjected Ms 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: Mr Rubiales, then-women’s team coach Jorge Vilda, Mr Rivera and Mr Luque.

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

A smiling man wearing a suit embraces a woman wearing a football uniform

The incident between Jenni Hermoso and Luis Rubiales was beamed to a global television audience of millions.(Reuters: Hannah Mckay)

The documents allege Mr Rubiales exerted “constant and repeated acts of pressure” on Ms 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 Mr Rubiales asking for Ms 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,” Ms Durantez Gil said in her written statement, filed with the court.

It’s alleged that Ms 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”.

A woman on a sporting field looking on

Spain’s Jenni Hermoso is one of the national team’s biggest stars.(AP: John Cowpland)

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

When she refused, the prosecution alleges, Mr Vilda — who was the team’s coach at the time — approached Ms 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,” Ms Durantez Gil said in the documents.

Attempts to coerce Ms Hermoso to make a statement absolving Mr 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 Ms Hermoso ended when Mr Rubiales was provisionally suspended by the sports global governing body, FIFA, on August 26.  

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

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

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