Players of the Spanish women's national soccer team Alexia Putellas (L) and Irene Paredes (R) leve the City of Justice in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, after testifying via video-conference before the Audiencia Nacional court as witnesses in the inquiry against former Spanish Soccer Federation's head Luis Rubiales for alleged sexual offenses and coercion over soccer player Jenni Hermoso, 02 October 2023. EFE/ Toni Albir

3 Spain players corroborate that Rubiales pressured Hermoso to downplay kiss

Madrid, Oct 2 (EFE).- Three Spain players testified in court on Monday that their teammate Jenni Hermoso was pressured by former Spanish football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales to issue a statement downplaying the kiss he gave her after the World Cup final in Australia.

After the footage of Rubiales kissing Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony following Spain’s victory over England went viral online causing international outrage, the RFEF released a statement on behalf of the striker saying the kiss was consensual and an act of “mutual” celebration.

Spain goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez after testifying at the National Court in Madrid, Spain, 2 October 2023, in the case against former president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales for alleged crimes of sexual assault and coercion of the player Jenni Hermoso. EFE/ Fernando Villar

But Hermoso later said through her union Futpro that the kiss was not consensual and that the incident had left her feeling “disrespected” and the “victim of an aggression”.

Her teammates Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes, and Misa Rodríguez said during their statements in court that Rubiales and his close circle had pressured Hermoso into approving the statement.

Putellas and Paredes appeared before the judge of the National Court Francisco de Jorge via videolink from Barcelona while Rodríguez attended the hearing at the Madrid court.

(FILE) The former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales, in Madrid, Spain, 15 September 2023. EFE/ Sergio Pérez

The three players testified for over an hour each and none of them talked to the media after the hearing.

The investigation will continue in the coming weeks with appearances from the other three people being investigated in relation to the incident: former coach Jorge Vilda and RFEF marketing director Rubén Rivera on Oct. 10, and men’s team director Albert Luque on Oct. 16.

Six witnesses will be summoned by the judge between Oct. 20 and 27, among them men’s team head coach Luis de la Fuente, RFEF former director of communication Pablo García-Cuervo and chief of staff José María Timón.

Prosecutors began legal proceedings for sexual assault charges against the former federation president after Hermoso formally complained to the National Court earlier this month.

Rubiales, who has resigned after weeks of intense pressure, has maintained his innocence, insisting that the kiss was consensual. EFE