Luis Rubiales testifies in Jennifer Hermoso case: ‘We won a World Cup and there were displays of affection’

The former president of the Spanish Football Federation insists the kiss he planted on the Spain player in Australia was consensual

Luis Rubiales
Luis Rubiales, with his lawyer Olga Tubau, leaving the High Court in Madrid.Samuel Sánchez
El País

Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Federation, appeared in the High Court Wednesday where he faces charges of alleged sexual abuse and coercion after non-consensually kissing Spain national team player Jennifer Hermoso after the World Cup final in Australia on July 20. Rubiales, who has since resigned from his position at the RFEF after being suspended by FIFA, insisted during the hearing that the kiss was consensual, and that at no time did he disrespect Hermoso because he asked her permission, as reflected in an audio recording of part of his statement published by Spanish digital news outlet El Español.

When asked by the court whether he knew of the existence of an anti-harassment protocol in the Spanish national team, Rubiales replied that he is no longer president of the RFEF. “I have explained before that there is a liaison with FIFA on these issues.” The judge repeated the question, asking if regardless of FIFA protocol, there is an equivalent protocol at the RFEF, and whether Rubiales had received specific training, read, and expressly signed that protocol. “It was explained to all of us and also to me,” he replied.

The judge then continued: “Tell me, in that anti-harassment protocol, is it authorized to be able to kiss or ask for consent to kiss to a player?” Rubiales responded: “But look, I’ve done it with [male] players. Look, we won a World Cup, and there were displays of affection. This is not that someone has taken someone to an office on the sly, to kiss them by force, it’s that it was something so natural, in front of millions of eyes, between two people who have been coexisting together for a long time. So, to ask a targeted question over… is it authorized?” Rubiales continued.

“Nothing is authorized or unauthorized, these are behaviors, within a completely extraordinary celebration, requested by me, with consent, also explained by the other party right after the game, when Jenni explained it to the press before all this, before she went into the locker room doing live broadcasts on social networks. I think the issue is evident from that moment until we arrived in Spain, when she continued to maintain the same. She didn’t want to appear [in an apology video Rubiales published, and which he allegedly coerced Hermoso to back his version of events], well I did so alone. would have loved it if she had because surely everything would have been clarified.”

In early September, Hermoso filed a complaint with state prosecutors over Rubiales’ conduct at Stadium Australia having previously stated though the FUTPRO players’ union, which represents her, that she felt “vulnerable” in the face of Rubiales’ behavior and that she had been “the victim of an aggression.”

The judge continued: “Regardless of the euphoria that you are commenting on, the question is, if you are so kind, I will repeat it again... Do you believe, from the context of the anti-harassment protocol, that you as a superior and head of the federation...?” Rubiales interrupts him again: “But I am not a superior, you are saying that I am a superior.”

Asked again if the kiss was consensual, Rubiales insists that it was and that Hermoso “left laughing her head off” and giving him “two slaps on the side and laughing.” The former president of the RFEF was also asked why he grabbed Hermoso’s head, and whether he believed “that a person you have grabbed by the head can give consent freely.” Rubiales replied that he did, and that his hands remained where they were, raised, “just as they would have stayed down.”

“Did you do it with any other player?” the judge inquired. “No,” Rubiales responded.

“Look, Jenni missed a penalty with 20 minutes to go, we suffered a lot because there were 12 minutes of stoppage time, she was happy but with a look on her face… I told her, don’t think about that penalty, really, come on, without you we wouldn’t have won the World Cup. And it just happened like that, like when you win the lottery or a war ends — imagine if the war ends in Ukraine — that effusiveness and spontaneity... I asked her despite everything and she said it was okay.”

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