Ex-coach of Spain women's team under investigation over World Cup kiss scandal

Jenni Hermoso (left) with ex-manager Jorge Vilda
Jenni Hermoso (left) with ex-manager Jorge Vilda - Alex Pantling/Getty Images

The former manager of Spain’s women’s football team has been placed under investigation for allegedly forcing Jenni Hermoso to sign a statement supporting Luis Rubiales over the World Cup kiss scandal.

Jorge Vilda must now appear at the Audiencia Nacional court in Madrid, Spain’s top criminal court, on Oct 10 over the case.

Mr Vilda, who was sacked in the wake of the controversy, has previously denied reports he pressured Ms Hermoso to put out a statement exonerating Mr Rubiales, the ex-president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

But Judge Francisco De Jorge, who is investigating the Aug 20 incident, expanded the scope of a sexual assault probe on Wednesday to include Mr Vilda over the claims.

Judge De Jorge also said he was investigating Albert Luque, the director of the men’s squad, and Rubén Rivera, the RFEF’s head of marketing. The pair had initially been summoned as witnesses in the case.

Luis Rubiales kissing Jenni Hermoso
Luis Rubiales kissing Jenni Hermoso - Noemi Llamas/Eurasia Sport Images

Mr Rubiales is facing sexual assault charges over last month’s allegedly non-consensual kiss at the World Cup final in Sydney, which sparked an international debate over sexism in football and a revolt by the national team.

He was RFEF head at the time but has since resigned, making his first appearance in court on Sept 15, when Judge De Jorge imposed a restraining order on him.

The order forbade Mr Rubiales from communicating with or coming within 200 metres of Ms Hermoso.

Ms Hermoso had initially added her name to a statement supporting Mr Rubiales but later said she did not consent to the kiss and it left her feeling “vulnerable and a victim of an aggression”.

Mr Rubiales insists the kiss was consensual.

Judge De Jorge’s investigation will determine if a trial should be held.

Under new legislation introduced last year, Mr Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to four years if found guilty of sexual assault.

Mr Rubiales is also facing coercion charges after Hermoso said she “had suffered constant ongoing pressure by Luis Rubiales and his professional entourage to justify and condone” his actions, court documents show.

Mr Rubiales initially attempted to brush off the scandal provoked by the kiss after the team’s 1-0 victory over England.

But as pressure increased football’s world governing body Fifa moved to suspend him, prompting his mother to embark on a short-lived hunger strike at what she called the “inhumane and bloodthirsty” persecution of her son.

In the wake of the scandal, 39 Spanish players went on strike demanding changes in the RFEF including “zero tolerance” for anyone infringing on the dignity of women’s football.