Luis Rubiales faces up to four years in prison, and his moth­er is on a hunger strike.

Span­ish pros­e­cu­tors have filed a law­suit against the head of the coun­try’s Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, accus­ing him of sex­u­al­ized vio­lence. If the func­tionary is found guilty, he faces up to four years in prison.

What’s happened?

Rubiales got into a scan­dal by kiss­ing Spain nation­al team play­er Jen­nifer Her­moso after win­ning the final of the 2023 Wom­en’s World Cup. This hap­pened dur­ing the award cer­e­mo­ny, when the offi­cial could not restrain him­self and kissed the foot­ball play­er right on the lips.

The official’s exces­sive joy shocked many, includ­ing the foot­ball play­er her­self. In a broad­cast from the lock­er room, she com­ment­ed on the kiss like this: “I didn’t like it, but what could I do?”

Lat­er, Rubiales came into the lock­er room and made things worse. He said that the fed­er­a­tion paid for the team’s trip to Ibiza, and then joked in a pecu­liar way that he would mar­ry Her­moso there.

That same kiss on the lips

How did the football authorities react to the kiss?

FIFA offi­cials sus­pend­ed Rubiales for 90 days as they opened a dis­ci­pli­nary inves­ti­ga­tion. The offi­cial said he had made a mis­take but refused to resign from his post. Then the nation­al team play­ers announced a boy­cott until Rubiales left his post. And after a cou­ple of weeks he was ready to make a deci­sion — say­ing that he could not con­tin­ue to per­form his duties.

Now Rubiales may become a defen­dant in a crim­i­nal case. The Span­ish pros­e­cu­tor’s office filed a law­suit against the func­tionary, accus­ing him of sex­u­al­ized vio­lence — for a kiss on the lips with­out con­sent.

Rubiales celebrated the victory wildly

The law­suit was filed in the Span­ish Nation­al Court in Madrid. Under a sex­u­al con­sent law passed last year, Rubiales could face a fine or one to four years in prison if con­vict­ed.

Rubiales kissed the soc­cer play­er on August 20, and pros­e­cu­tors began a pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion on August 28. But for the crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of Rubiales, a state­ment from the foot­ball play­er was required — it was received on Sep­tem­ber 6.

What does the victim of violence say?

Her­moso said she was “the vic­tim of an impul­sive, sex­ist, inap­pro­pri­ate act with­out any con­sent on her part.” Rubiales is now pro­hib­it­ed from attempt­ing to con­tact the girl or her rel­a­tives.

After the scan­dal, the head coach of the Span­ish nation­al team, Jorge Wil­da, who sup­port­ed Rubiales and led the team to vic­to­ry, lost his posi­tion. The kiss received pub­lic­i­ty: Rubiales was crit­i­cized at the UN and even the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter expressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the offi­cial’s actions.

The victim has not forgiven Rubiales

Mom is fight­ing for the func­tionary: on Mon­day she locked her­self in a church in the city of Motril on the Mediter­ranean coast near Grana­da and went on a hunger strike. She says that a “bloody and inhu­mane hunt” was announced for her son.