Jenni Hermoso, the Spanish player kissed on the lips by Luis Rubiales at the Women’s World Cup final, has appeared in court to testify in the sexual assault case against the former president of the country’s football association.
Hermoso arrived at a Madrid court on Tuesday morning where the record scorer for Spain’s women’s team is expected to reiterate her allegations that the kiss was unwanted and Rubiales tried to pressure her to downplay the incident.
The kiss tarnished Spain’s victory over England in the Sydney final and sparked outrage across the world, leading to Rubalies eventually being banned from all football-related activity by Fifa for at least three years.
Rubiales, who has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed the kiss was consensual, initially refused to resign as president of the Spanish Football Federation following the incident and has been accused of sexual abuse and coercion by state prosecutors.
The court case, which is taking place behind closed doors, will see Hermoso give her version of events. According to Spanish media, the 33-year-old asked the judge to keep her court appearance as private as possible.
“Everything went well,” Hermoso said afterwards. “The judicial process will continue its course, and thanks for the support that many of you had given to me.”
Based on a sexual consent law passed in Spain last year, Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if found guilty. The law eliminated the difference between “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault”, and can sanction any unconsented sexual act.
It has also been alleged that Hermoso was coerced into making a statement shortly after the kiss that appeared to downplay the incident. The Spanish Football Federation has denied attributing a statement to Hermoso after she appeared to defend Rubiales.
Rubiales was banned by Fifa for three years after he eventually resigned as the president of the Spanish Football Federation on 10 September. It came after a boycott from Spain’s World Cup winners and amid the #SeAcabo [It’s Over] movement in Spain.