Sep 15, 2023, 10:26 AM ET
Spain’s High Court on Friday imposed a restraining order to prevent former football federation chief Luis Rubiales from coming within 200 metres of forward Jenni Hermoso, as he appeared in court to be investigated for sexual assault.
Rubiales denied any wrongdoing during the hearing, which was his first court appearance since the start of the investigation into his behaviour after Spain’s Women’s World Cup final win in Sydney on Aug. 20.
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However, Francisco de Jorge rejected a request by the prosecution that Rubiales should report to the court every two weeks to ensure he does not flee the country.
Prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Rubiales after Hermoso decided to make a formal complaint, and the suit, on charges of sexual assault and coercion, was accepted by judge Francisco de Jorge, who summoned Rubiales for questioning.
Rubiales arrived at Spain’s Audiencia Nacional — its National Court — at 11.15 a.m. local time, accompanied by his attorney, Olga Tubau.
He made no comment to journalists gathered outside the court’s entrance.
“We maintain what we’ve said from the beginning. It was a nonconsensual kiss,” Hermoso’s lawyer Carla Vall i Duran told reporters. “Thanks to the [images of the kiss], the entire world, the entire country, has been able to observe there was no type of consent. And we are going to prove that in the courtroom.
“We’re at a very early stage in this case. I’m not going to repeat what was said inside,” she added. “We — and the state prosecutors — have asked for an injunction, but we’ll wait for the judge’s ruling. I won’t go into details.
“Logically, Ms. Hermoso feels affected by what happened, by the degrading act she experienced in the stadium which has tarnished this sporting achievement.”
Rubiales finally bowed to pressure to resign from his position this past Sunday, citing FIFA’s decision to begin disciplinary proceedings against him and hand him a 90-day suspension as well as the potential impact of the fallout on Spain’s bid to host the 2030 men’s World Cup.
He is facing a charge of sexual assault over the kiss and a charge of coercion over allegations that he subsequently pressured Hermoso and her family to defend him.
In a letter announcing his resignation from the RFEF presidency on Sunday, Rubiales said he would fight to prove his innocence.
“My intentions were noble [and] 100% nonsexual,” he told Piers Morgan in an interview broadcast on Tuesday. “There was no harm, no sexual content, no aggression, nothing like that… I made a mistake, I apologise, but let’s be clear, under no circumstance is this sexual aggression.”
Hermoso has said the kiss was not consensual and made her feel “vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist act.”
After Rubiales initially refused to resign, the 23 members of Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s squad — as well as 58 other players — said they would not return to play for their country under the current federation leadership.
Coach Jorge Vilda has also since lost his job, and replacement Montse Tomé had been due to name a squad for Spain’s UEFA Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on Friday, but RFEF said in a statement the selection announcement has been delayed.
Spain’s World Cup-winning footballers said on Friday they will continue their boycott of the women’s national team despite the departures of Rubiales and Vilda.
Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.