The judge of Rubiales case, Francisco de Jorge, has given a radical turn to the investigation into the kiss that Luis Rubiales, former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), gave to the player Jennifer Hermoso during the celebration of the victory of the Women’s World Cup, as well as about the alleged subsequent pressure for the athlete to publicly endorse the former director’s version. According to sources from the National Court, the investigating magistrate has decided to call Jorge Vilda, the former coach of the women’s team, dismissed after the scandal, to testify as a defendant; and also to Albert Luque, director of the national team, and Rubén Rivera, responsible for marketing. These last two were initially summoned as witnesses, but the instructor has decided to change their status.
With this initiative, the judge extends the round of interrogations that had begun after Luis Rubiales’ statement on September 15, when he denied the two crimes attributed to him (sexual assault and coercion) — although the former president left the National Court with the prohibition of approaching less than 200 meters from the player and communicating with her. Everything has changed after, this Monday, a brother and a friend of the soccer player testified, who told Judge De Jorge that the kiss was not consensual and that, in the hours and days that followed, the pressure on the athlete continued. At that meeting, according to legal sources, Jorge Vilda was targeted, a name that the Prosecutor’s Office had already put on the table during the appearance of the former president of the Federation.
According to the specialized media ReliefDuring the flight back to Spain from Australia (where the Women’s World Cup final was held), Jorge Vilda approached the family on three occasions to convince Jenni Hermoso to go out in public to make light of the matter. However, her performance would have been part of a broader and more lasting strategy, since Albert Luque and Rubén Rivera also traveled to Ibiza, where the soccer players celebrated the title afterwards, to supposedly put pressure on Jennifer Hermoso.
The three (Vilda, Luque and Rivera) will now have the chance to explain themselves. And they will do so as defendants – so they will attend the appointment before the judge accompanied by a lawyer. The magistrate has set his statements for next October 10.
Before, five other people will have already paraded before instructor De Jorge. The judge maintains the appearances as witnesses of Patricia Pérez, press officer of the women’s team, for this Thursday; and Miguel García Caba, director of the Integrity area, dismissed last Friday. The judge will also hear on October 2 from three of Hermoso’s teammates: Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodríguez.
The Prosecutor’s Office attributes two alleged crimes to Luis Rubiales: one of sexual assault, for the “non-consensual” kiss of the player; and another of coercion, due to the subsequent pressures on her and her surroundings for the athlete to go out in public to support the actions of the former president of the federation. “Hermoso suffered a situation of harassment, against the development of his life in peace, tranquility and freely,” states the complaint from the public ministry, signed by Marta Durántez, lieutenant prosecutor of the National Court. The judge has not yet called Hermoso to testify, who did go to the headquarters of the State Attorney General’s Office at the beginning of September to formalize the complaint.
Jorge Vilda has been in the pillory since the same day the scandal broke out. And his situation worsened in the extraordinary general assembly of the RFEF on August 25, called by Rubiales to try to protect himself in the position. At that meeting, after the president launched an attack against his critics and attacked “false feminism,” the then women’s coach stood up to applaud him. She did it, furthermore, just a few minutes after the president of the federation promised her a contract extension and a salary increase (from 170,000 euros to 500,000).
Soon, once Rubiales was suspended by FIFA, the women’s coach wanted to back down and sent a statement to the media in which he described the attitude of the president of the RFEF as “inappropriate behavior.” But it was of no use to him. He was dismissed in early September. The coach was in conflict with the locker room: 80 players (including the 23 champions) announced that they would not return to the national team “as long as the current leaders continue”; and a good part of his technical team had resigned. In an interview, the former coach of the women’s team tried to justify himself: “I have been unfairly dismissed. He didn’t know very well what he was going to that assembly, he thought he was going to resign. At that moment he makes it public that he is renewing me and recognizing my work. “I also applaud a management,” he assured.
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