Under-fire Spanish football boss Luis Rubiales is facing fresh fallout over the Women's World Cup kiss scandal, with star player Jenni Hermoso lodging an official criminal complaint against him. FIFA has provisionally suspended Spanish football president Rubiales after he kissed Hermoso on the mouth while celebrating Spain's World Cup triumph in Sydney.
The messy saga took another ugly turn this week with Jorge Vilda sacked as Spain's women's football coach, weeks after guiding his side to World Cup glory. Vilda was among those seen applauding Rubiales after the Spanish football boss defiantly declared last week that he was refusing to resign over the scandal and would fight to clear his name.
Hermoso claims the kiss was not consensual - something Rubiales vehemently disputes. She has now lodged an official criminal complaint over the unsolicited kiss after giving her testimony to authorities on Tuesday in Spain. The country's national prosecutor's office says the complaint will be processed "as soon as possible".
It means Rubiales could face criminal charges in addition to the ongoing inquiry by Spain's top sport court for "serious misconduct" and his provisional suspension by FIFA, whose own investigation remains ongoing. The prosecutor for Spain's High Court had already indicated that if Hermoso were to file a complaint then Rubiales could face a sexual assault charge, which carries a prison term of between one and four years. The High Court has jurisdiction over the case as the incident took place abroad.
Hermoso said she did not want to be kissed, and that she felt "vulnerable and a victim of an aggression" and initially felt forced to present a version of events supporting the under-fire football boss.
Rubiales, who has so refused to resign despite immense pressure from within Spain and around the world, said the kiss was "spontaneous, mutual, euphoric and consensual". His behaviour has sparked global outrage, with protesters taking to the streets of Spain to rally against him in support of Hermoso and the rights of women in general.
Rubiales also grabbed his crotch while standing close to Spain's Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter during the final match. Some 81 Spain players, including all 23 Women's World Cup winners, have indicated they will not play for the national side again while Rubiales is in charge.
Spain's World Cup-winning coach sacked
The latest development comes after Women's World Cup-winning coach Vilda's sacking, with the Spanish Federation announcing he would be replaced by assistant Montse Tome - who is the first woman to take charge of the women's national team. Tome had been Vilda's assistant coach since 2018 and helped him steer Spain to glory at the Women's World Cup. The Spanish federation (RFEF) said Tome has "established herself as a key player in the national team's growth".
A statement released by the federation gave no reason for Vilda's dismissal and did not mention Hermoso, Rubiales or the scandal. The RFEF thanked the 42-year-old for his "extraordinary sporting legacy". The statement said: "The coach has been key to the remarkable growth of women's football and leaves Spain as world champions and second in the FIFA rankings."
In a separate statement by interim President Pedro Rocha, Spain's football federation apologised for Rubiales' "inappropriate conduct". A three-page statement signed by Rocha said: "The damage caused to Spanish football, to Spanish sport, to Spanish society and the values of football and sport as a whole have been enormous."
Vilda's time at the helm has produced incredible success on the field, but has been dogged by off-field turmoil. The coach, who was considered a close ally of Rubiales, had been under fire since last year after 15 players staged a mutiny and called for his resignation because of inadequate coaching methods and inappropriate conduct. Most of the players involved were cut from the squad - even after some demands were met - with only three returning for Spain's World Cup campaign.
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