Spanish prosecutors have opened a sexual assault investigation into Luis Rubiales after he kissed footballer Jenni Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup final.
Rubliales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation, has resisted calls to resign since he kissed Hermanoso, a star player on Spain’s World Cup team, on the lips after her victory in Sydney, Australia on 20 August.
The prosecutor’s office of Spain’s National High Court agreed to open a probe into the case after criminal complaints were filed by third parties, according to a statement to AFP Monday (28 August).
Hermoso has said in a statement on social media that Luis Rubiales’ kiss was not “consensual”. The football star said she was left feeling “vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on [her] part”.
Officials said the investigation would “look into the facts, which could constitute an offence of sexual assault”.
The court said it was opening the investigation in light of the “unequivocal nature” of Hermoso’s statements, adding it was necessary to “determine their legal significance”.
“Given the public statements made by Jennifer Hermoso, the sexual act she was subjected to by Rubiales was not consensual,” the court statement said.
The investigation comes after world football governing body FIFA suspended Rubiales from football-related duties for 90 days due to the incident.
The Spanish football federation said it would hold an “extraordinary and urgent” Monday afternoon after Rubiales’ suspension amid the kiss row.
Spain’s national women’s team, La Roja, showed solidarity with Hermoso by declaring they won’t take to the field for any more games unless Rubiales steps down.
Dozens of other football players, including England’s Lionesses, have said they stand with Hermoso.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez also weighed in on the incident and described Rubiales’ conduct as “unacceptable”.
Sánchez said he didn’t believe Rubiales’ apologies were “adequate” and said the head of the Spanish Football Federation needed to “continue to take steps to clarify what we all saw”.
The controversy surrounding Luis Rubiales and the kissing incident took a bizarre turn after his mother locked herself in a church in his hometown, refusing to eat because of the so-called “inhuman hunt” against her son.