The judge in the 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 player Jennifer Hermoso during the victory celebration of the Women’s World Cup as well the alleged subsequent pressure on the athlete to publicly support the former director’s version. According to sources at the National Court, the investigating judge has decided to summon Jorge Vilda, the former coach of the women’s team who was fired after the scandal, as a defendant as a witness; and also to Albert Luque, director of the national team, and Rubén Rivera, head of marketing. The last two were originally called as witnesses, but the instructor decided to change their status.
With this initiative, the judge extends the round of interrogations that began after the testimony of Luis Rubiales on September 15, when he denied the two crimes with which he was accused (sexual assault and coercion) – although the former president left the National Court with the ban to approach the player within 200 meters and communicate with her. Everything changed after a brother and a friend of the football player testified this Monday, telling judges De Jorge that the kiss was not consensual and that the pressure on the athlete continued in the hours and days that followed. At this meeting, according to legal sources, Jorge Vilda was targeted, a name that the prosecution had already put on the table during the appearance of the former president of the Federation.
According to the specialist media Relevo, Jorge Vilda turned to the family three times during the flight back to Spain from Australia (where the final of the Women’s World Cup was taking place) to convince Jenni Hermoso to go into public subject. However, their appearance would have been part of a broader and longer-term strategy, as Albert Luque and Rubén Rivera also traveled to Ibiza, where the footballers then celebrated the title, supposedly to put pressure on Jennifer Hermoso.
The three (Vilda, Luque and Rivera) now have the chance to explain themselves. And they will do this as defendants – so they will attend the hearing before the judge accompanied by a lawyer. The judge has scheduled his testimony for next October 10th.
Albert Luque (left), director of the national team, and Rubén Rivera, marketing director of RFFE.Europa Press
Five other people had already paraded in front of instructor De Jorge. The judge maintains the testimony of Patricia Pérez, press secretary of the women’s team, for this Thursday; and Miguel García Caba, director of integrity, were fired last Friday. The judge will also hear from three of Hermoso’s teammates on October 2: Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodríguez.
Prosecutors attributed two alleged crimes to Luis Rubiales: one of sexual assault for the player’s “non-consensual” kiss; and another of coercion, due to the subsequent pressure on her and those around her for the athlete to appear publicly to support the actions of the former president of the federation. “Hermoso suffered a situation of harassment that affected the development of his life in peace, tranquility and freedom,” says the ministry’s statement of claim, signed by Marta Durántez, deputy prosecutor of the National Court. The judge has not yet called Hermoso as a witness, but he went to the Attorney General’s headquarters in early September to formally file the complaint.
Jorge Vilda has been in the pillory since the scandal broke. And his situation worsened in the extraordinary general meeting of the RFEF on August 25, which Rubiales called to protect himself in this position. After the president launched an attack on his critics at that meeting and attacked “fake feminism,” the then women’s coach stood to applaud him. He did this just a few minutes after the association president had promised him a contract extension and a salary increase (from 170,000 euros to 500,000 euros).
Shortly after 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 RFEF president’s attitude as “inappropriate behavior.” But it was of no use to him. He was released in early September. The coach ran into conflict with the dressing room: 80 players (including the 23 champions) announced that they would not return to the national team “as long as the current leader continues”; and much of its technical team had resigned. In an interview, the former coach of the women’s team tried to justify himself: “I was unfairly dismissed. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at this meeting, I thought I was going to resign. In this moment he makes it public that he renews me and recognizes my work. “I also applaud his management,” he said.
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