Spain’s ex-football chief gets restraining order

A judge has banned Spain’s ex-football chief Luis Rubiales from going within 200 meters of footballer Jenni Hermoso.

Prosecutors asked for the restraining order as the national court in Madrid considered a criminal complaint of sexual assault and coercion.

Appearing in court for the first time, Rubiales denied sexually assaulting  Hermoso by kissing her on the lips after Spain’s Women’s World Cup win.

Hermoso’s lawyer was adamant it was a “non-consensual kiss”.

Rubiales resigned his position as head of the football federation (RFEF) earlier this week and appeared in a closed court session on Friday to deny two criminal offences.

Investigating judge Francisco de Jorge was asked to bar him from approaching within 500 meters (1 600ft) of Jenni Hermoso or from communicating with her.

He later agreed to the order but placed restrictions at 200 metres (650ft), adding that Rubiales should not contact the player during the investigation.

A further request that he should appear before the judge every 15 days was rejected.

Spain won the Women’s World Cup in Australia on August 20, but the team’s success has been overshadowed ever since by Rubiales’s actions during the celebrations after the final whistle.

A boycott of the national team still has not been resolved, a week ahead of their next game, and 39 players have signed a letter saying that changes made by the football federation “are not enough for the players to feel in a safe place”.

Rubiales arrived in court in a black suit and white shirt, and spent a reported 45 minutes being questioned by the judge.

After denying the allegations against him, he left the court alongside his lawyer Olga Tubau.

Rubiales has maintained that when he held her head in his hands and kissed her on the lips it was mutual and consensual. He eventually resigned last Sunday as president of the federation, declaring: “I have faith in the truth and I will do everything in my power so that it prevails.”

Hermoso, 33, says that she did not consent to the kiss. Prosecutors submitted her initial complaint of sexual assault and added one of coercion, arguing that he had put pressure on the Spain forward to come to his defence amid uproar in the days after the kiss.

Outside court, her lawyer Carla Vall said that everyone had seen what had happened: “We can say precisely that thanks to [these images], and thanks to social change and changes in the law, we can show that Rubiales had a complete lack of consent.”

Spain’s left-wing government reformed laws on consent in the past two years after a notorious gang-rape case in 2016 that led to five men being cleared of rape.

Under the so-called “Only Yes is Yes” law, a non-consensual kiss can be considered an offence of sexual assault, so Rubiales could face a fine or even a jail sentence if the case goes to trial and he is found guilty.

Five days after the World Cup victory, Hermoso issued a statement saying that no person in a work, sport or social setting should be a victim of such non-consensual conduct: “I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulsive-driven, sexist, out-of-place act, without any consent on my part.”

She is due to give evidence to the court at a later date. (BBC)




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