Spain’s High Court has issued a restraining order against former soccer chief Luis Rubiales, preventing him from approaching national team player Jenni Hermoso. This action comes as Rubiales faces an investigation for an alleged sexual assault stemming from an incident where he kissed Hermoso on the lips during a medal ceremony that followed Spain’s women’s World Cup victory in Sydney, Australia, on August 20. The incident has sparked widespread outrage in Spain, triggering discussions about sexism within the country’s sports and society and giving rise to protests akin to the “Me Too” movement. Rubiales, 46, maintains that the kiss was consensual, while Hermoso asserts that it was forced upon her.
According to the court statement, the restraining order prohibits Rubiales from attempting to contact Hermoso or coming within 200 meters of her. It’s worth noting that the prosecution’s request for Rubiales to report to the court every two weeks was rejected by Judge Francisco de Jorge.
Dressed in a black suit with a white shirt, Rubiales exited the High Court in Madrid accompanied by his lawyer Olga Tubau after a confidential investigative hearing lasting approximately an hour. He refrained from making any statements to the media assembled outside. During his testimony, Rubiales vehemently denied the allegations, as per the prosecutor’s office statement.
After resisting mounting pressure from players, politicians, and women’s advocacy groups for weeks, Rubiales eventually stepped down from his position as president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on September 10. Despite this decision, he continues to assert that he acted with consent during a moment of celebration and joy.
As he made his way to court, local media reported that female players, including members of the World Cup-winning squad, were planning to maintain their boycott of the national team until further changes were implemented within the federation’s leadership.
Following Hermoso’s statement to the prosecutors, in which she alleged that Rubiales forcibly kissed her on the mouth while holding her head with both hands—a moment witnessed by millions on television—state prosecutor Marta Durantez Gil filed a judicial complaint. In addition to the initial sexual assault charge, a possible coercion charge was added after Hermoso disclosed that she and her family had experienced pressure from Rubiales and his associates to affirm her consent.
The investigation, led by De Jorge, must precede any formal charges under Spanish law and will determine whether the case proceeds to trial. If it does, Rubiales could face imprisonment for a period ranging from one to four years.
De Jorge has ordered various media outlets, including the state broadcaster TVE, to provide footage of the incident and subsequent videos, including one featuring players celebrating on a bus with Rubiales, making light-hearted references to the kiss. The investigative process is expected to span several months.
Hermoso’s lawyer, Carla Vall, reaffirmed their position after the hearing, stating, “We can stand up what we said from the beginning. It was a kiss without consent, everyone saw the images.”
This legal case will also serve as a public test of the leftist coalition government’s “Solo sí es sí” (Only yes is yes) law, which places consent at the core of sexual relationships. Numerous players, sports organizations, and politicians have rallied behind Hermoso in a campaign united under the hashtag #SeAcabó (It’s Over) on social media.
Over 80 of Spain’s leading female players, including the 23 world champions, have refrained from representing the national team until changes are made within the RFEF’s management structure and approach.
In a separate incident that has dealt another blow to Spain’s male-dominated football establishment, police arrested three youth players from Real Madrid on suspicion of distributing a sexually explicit video involving a minor. The mother of a 16-year-old in the Canary Islands filed a complaint regarding the video, alleging it was recorded without her consent, according to police reports.