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Prosecutor seeks 2-1/2-year jail term for Spain’s ex-football chief Rubiales over kiss

MADRID: A prosecutor at Spain’s High Court is seeking a prison sentence of 2-1/2 years for former football federation chief Luis Rubiales over his unsolicited kiss on player Jenni Hermoso, a court document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.

Prosecutor Marta Durantez charged Rubiales with one count of sexual assault and one of coercion for his alleged actions in the aftermath of the kiss, offenses carrying jail terms of one year and 18 months, respectively.

Rubiales, 46, grabbed Hermoso and kissed her on the lips on Aug. 20 of last year during the awards ceremony after Spain’s victory in the women’s World Cup in Sydney, making global headlines and causing a national debate in Spain about sexism.

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 meters 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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