(FILE) The former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales, upon his arrival at court in Madrid, Spain, to testify 15 September 2023 for alleged sexual assault and coercion. EFE/ Sergio Pérez

Spanish soccer coach disputes knowing Hermoso felt pressured after kiss scandal

Madrid, Nov 2 (EFE) The coach of Spain’s men’s national soccer team said on Thursday that he was not aware of any pressure from his former boss, Luis Rubiales, to downplay the kiss scandal that has tarnished Spanish soccer.

(FILE) The Spanish national team player Jenni Hermoso (C) participates this Monday in a training session for the senior women's team in Madrid, Spain, 23 October 2023. EFE/ Rodrigo Jiménez

Coach Luis de la Fuente testified as a witness before National Court Judge Francisco de Jorge in the case against ex-Spain soccer chief Luis Rubiales, who kissed Hermoso on the lips after the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney, Australia.

Former RFEF Director of Communication Pablo Garca-Cuervo and Deputy Director Enrique Yunta, both summoned as witnesses, have denied knowing about any alleged pressure on Hermoso, according to legal sources.

Garca-Cuervo, who was fired shortly after the scandal, claimed Hermoso gave her permission to release RFEF statements attributed to her, in which she downplayed the kiss.

She did, however, express a desire to avoid further discussion of the matter, citing fatigue.

According to Garca-Cuervo, the RFEF drafted the statement based on Hermoso’s previous testimony to Radio Cadena Cope shortly after the team’s victory. He confirmed that Luis Rubiales had reviewed the statement, which had also been shared with Hermoso.

Luis de la Fuente, who attended the World Cup final in Sydney on August 20 and returned to Spain with the team and RFEF members, stated that he was unaware of the alleged pressure on Hermoso following the kiss.

He also claimed ignorance of the pressure that women’s team press chief Patricia Pérez had reported during the RFEF Integrity department’s internal investigation.

During their statements, Yunta and Garca-Cuervo stated that the RFEF initially sent a draft of questions and answers to the press secretary, who was then asked to clarify and modify them as she saw fit.

De la Fuente denied being present at that meeting.

In the ongoing sexual assault and coercion case against the former RFEF president, Luis Rubiales, other suspects who have testified include former women’s team coach Jorge Vilda, men’s soccer team director Albert Luque, and RFEF marketing director Rubén Rivera.

Laia Codina, a soccer player, and Rafael del Amo, the president of Spain’s Women’s Soccer Committee, are scheduled to testify as witnesses on Nov. 16. EFE