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Prosecutor Seeks 2-1/2-Year Jail term for Spain’s Ex-Soccer Chief Rubiales over Kiss

The unwelcome kiss on midfielder Jenni Hermoso by former soccer federation chief Luis Rubiales has led a prosecutor at Spain’s High Court to seek a 2-1/2 year prison sentence for him, according to a court document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

Rubiales is accused of doing two things after the kiss: coercing someone into doing something and sexually assaulting someone. These charges entail a year and an eighteen-month prison sentence, respectively, according to prosecutor Marta Durantez.

During the awards ceremony following Spain’s victory in the women’s World Cup in Sydney, on August 20, last year, Rubiales, 46, grabbed Hermoso and planted a kiss on her lips. This kiss went viral and sparked a national debate about sexism in Spain.

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

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 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 euros ($54,080) in damages to Hermoso, with another 50,000 euros to be jointly paid by Rubiales, Vilda, Luque and Rivera.

In addition, she requested a restraining order barring Rubiales from coming within 200 metres of Hermoso and from communicating with her for the next seven-and-a-half years.

If convicted and sentenced as requested by the prosecutor, Rubiales would not necessarily have to go to prison. Spain’s criminal code allows judges to “exceptionally” suspend jail terms if – as in this case – none of the sentences imposed individually exceeds two years.

Rubiales has been named in a separate corruption probe that shook the RFEF last week, when police searched the federation’s headquarters and an apartment belonging to Rubiales, arresting seven people.

A Spanish court has been investigating since June 2022 if Rubiales 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, a judicial source told Reuters then.

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.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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