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Spain’s Hermoso Says Image Tarnished by Rubiales World Cup Kiss

This is the first time that Ms Hermoso’s account has been heard in her own words, and she tells the prosecutors that “clearly I felt disrespected” as a player and a person.

Luis Rubiales has denied sexually assaulting and coercing the footballer.

He eventually resigned over the outcry.

An investigating judge is now carrying out a preliminary investigation to decide whether the accusations should go to trial. The National Court has since increased the scope of its inquiry to include other officials in the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

In her statement, recorded in the prosecutors’ office early in September and broadcast by commercial channel Telecinco, Ms Hermoso complains that her image has been tarnished by the Spanish Football Federation. “As an employee of that federation, no-one protected me,” she said.

She recounts what happened as Spain’s players celebrated winning the Women’s World Cup in Sydney, Australia, last August, when their victory became overshadowed by the federation president’s kiss.

She describes hugging Luis Rubiales and telling him: “We’ve done it.” She then says he told her the victory was “thanks to her”, put his hands on her head and kissed her on the lips, and that she remembers nothing else.

“I didn’t expect it,” she is heard saying. “I didn’t do anything to land myself in that situation… how could I expect it in that scenario of a medal ceremony at a World Cup final?”

At one point in her testimony, Ms Hermoso breaks down when she explains the pressure she has since come under, to the extent of “having to leave Madrid so as to avoid that pressure”.

Ms Hermoso, 33, recalls immediately telling team-mates Alexia Putellas and Irene Paredes what had happened in the stadium, but that she had been careful to avoid doing anything to steal the limelight.

However, even before the team left the stadium, she says football federation officials approached her and then asked her to get off the team bus during the journey to sign a press statement for the world’s media indicating the kiss was mutual.

“I didn’t say a single word of that text,” she said. “I felt coerced again.”

Asked about a video that appeared showing her team-mates joking about the kiss on the bus, she said only a few of them had seen the images and there was no way she could have gone to “start crying in the corner” to break the mood of celebration.

Ms Hermoso is also heard explaining how Luis Rubiales approached her on the plane home, asking her to appear in a video with him, for the sake of his two daughters who were crying.

When the former federation president resigned last month, he maintained the kiss was mutual and consensual and had faith that the truth would prevail.

Monday night’s broadcast came hours before former team coach Jorge Vilda appeared on Tuesday before a judge investigating whether he was part of an attempt to exert pressure on the Spain forward to say the kiss was consensual.

Mr Vilda has denied seeking to coerce Ms Hermoso and argues that he did not witness the kiss, because he was at the back of the group receiving their winners’ medals.

However, he has admitted speaking to her brother on the flight from Sydney to Madrid when he realised she was unhappy, Spanish media report.

The pressure from federation figures appears to have continued after the team returned to Spain. When they went on a celebratory trip to Ibiza, she says that two more officials became involved and sought to use her family and a friend to talk to her.

The RFEF’s marketing director, Rubén Rivera, was also due to appear before the judge on Tuesday. He too has denied trying to persuade the footballer or her brother to absolve Luis Rubiales from any blame, reports say.

Last month, Ms Hermoso, who is a native of Madrid, returned to Mexican club Pachuca, where she has become an important figure in Mexico’s Liga MX.

Source: BBC