Luis Rubiales: Spanish prosecutor seeks 2.5-year prison term for Jenni Hermoso kiss

Prosecutor Marta Durantez charged Rubiales with one count of sexual assault and one of coercion for his alleged actions, offences carrying jail terms of one year and 18 months, respectively

Former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales leaves the Audiencia Nacional court in Madrid on September 15, 2023. AFP
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Luis Rubiales could face two-and-a-half years behind bars over his unsolicited kiss on player Jenni Hermoso.

A prosecutor at Spain's High Court is seeking a prison sentence for the former Spanish football chief after he kissed female footballer Hermoso following Spain's victory at the Women's World Cup last August.

Prosecutor Marta Durantez charged Rubiales with one count of sexual assault and one of coercion for his alleged actions in the aftermath of the kiss, offences carrying jail terms of one year and 18 months, respectively.

Rubiales, 46, grabbed Hermoso and kissed her on the lips on August 20 of last year during the awards ceremony after Spain's victory over England in Sydney, making global headlines and causing a national debate in Spain about sexism.

Hermoso and her teammates said the kiss was unwanted and demeaning, but Rubiales argued it was consensual and denied any wrongdoing.

He initially refused to resign amid the furore before agreeing to step down on September 11, 2023.

The prosecutor also accused the former coach of the women's national team, Jorge Vilda, the current sporting director of the Spanish federation (RFEF), Albert Luque, and the RFEF's marketing chief, Ruben Rivera, of coercing Hermoso into saying the kiss was consensual.

The indictment said the three officials harassed Hermoso by exerting "constant and repeated acts of pressure" directly on the player and through her friends and family. They each could face 18 months behind bars as well.

All three denied wrongdoing when they appeared before the court.

Durantez also said Rubiales should pay €50,000 ($54,080) in damages to Hermoso, with another €50,000 to be jointly paid by Rubiales, Vilda, Luque and Rivera.

The prosecutor has also requested a restraining order against Rubiales, preventing him from coming within 200 metres of Hermoso as well as a ban on communicating with her for the next seven-and-a-half years.

Even if Rubiales is ultimately convicted and sentenced, it does not necessarily mean he will serve out his sentence in detention. Spain's criminal code allows judges to "exceptionally" suspend jail terms if none of the sentences imposed individually exceeds two years.

Rubiales' legal woes do not end there. Last week, the former official was named in a separate corruption probe that shook the RFEF. Spanish police searched the federation's headquarters and an apartment belonging to Rubiales, arresting seven people.

Ruibiales has been under investigation by a Spanish court since June 2022 to determine if he committed a crime of improper management when the RFEF agreed with former Barcelona player Gerard Pique's Kosmos firm to move the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.

In October 2023, Rubiales was suspended from all football-related activities for three years by world governing body Fifa.

Rubiales, who was in the Dominican Republic during last week's searches, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and told El Espanol newspaper he would cooperate with the investigation.

A court source said his lawyers told the judge he would return from the Dominican Republic on April 6.

Updated: March 28, 2024, 11:35 AM