Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press Sports/Getty Images
Luis Rubiales attends a press conference on July 14, 2021, in Madrid.
A judge has proposed that Spain’s former soccer boss, Luis Rubiales, should stand trial for giving an unwanted kiss to star forward Jennifer Hermoso after the national team’s 2023 Women’s World Cup victory, the National Court press office in Madrid said in statement Thursday.
In a five-page ruling, viewed by CNN, investigating judge Francisco de Jorge, wrote that his investigation “has revealed the existence of solid indications that the kiss” to Hermoso “was not consensual and was a unilateral and surprise initiative” by Rubiales.
The kiss was televised globally as Spain’s players lined up to receive their medals from major political and football figures after their victory last August.
Rubiales, then president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), was seen kissing Hermoso on the lips, then slapping her twice on the back, sparking an immediate outcry in Spain and internationally over consent.
Rubiales had described the kiss as “mutual” – a claim Hermoso has denied, saying she did not consent and was not respected.
Rubiales resigned as RFEF president last September following weeks of pressure and now faces potential prosecution over his alleged actions.
The judge also proposed that Rubiales and three other men – including Jorge Vilda, the former women’s team coach, and two other federation officials – should stand trial on a separate charge of allegedly trying to pressure Hermoso to publicly affirm that the kiss had been consensual, the court’s press office statement said.
The judge’s ruling said that state prosecutors and also Hermoso’s lawyer now have 10 days to formally request that the case proceed to trial, specifying the charges or that it be shelved, the court’s press office statement said.
Defense lawyers for Rubiales and the other three men under investigation now have three days to try to halt an eventual trial by appealing to a different section of the court, a court spokesperson told CNN on Thursday.
After that, the judge could issue an order to send the case for trial, which – if it occurs – would be held before a panel of three other judges at the National Court, the court spokesperson added.
Rubiales and the other three accused have each denied the charges against them in prior testimony before the judge in recent months, the court’s prosecution service said in earlier statements following their respective hearings. Hermoso was the last to testify in the investigation phase, appearing before the judge last January 2.
CNN’s Kathleen Magramo contributed to this report.