Former Spanish football federation head Luis Rubiales denied any wrongdoing when confronted by a court probing his kissing a player on the lips last month at the FIFA Women's World Cup, Spain's state prosecutor's office said on Friday.
Rubiales was summoned to Spain's National Court earlier this week by Judge Francisco de Jorge. (More Sports News)
Rubiales kissed Spain forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony on August 20 in Sydney, Australia, after Spain defeated England to win the title. He claimed she agreed to the kiss, although Hermoso has repeatedly denied this.
Last Thursday, Spanish state prosecutors charged Rubiales with sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales, according to Hermoso, pressed her to speak out in his defence shortly after the issue broke.
According to the state prosecutor's office, Rubiales rejected both claims when addressing questions from the judge during an hour-long closed-door hearing.
Rubiales and his defence counsel, Olga Tubau, did not speak to the media outside the National Court.
Carla Vall i Duran, Hermoso's lawyer, stated that they were pleased with the outcome of the court.
“We can continue to affirm that the kiss was not consented to, which is what we have said from the very beginning,” Vall i Duran said.
“Thanks to the (images of the kiss), the entire world, the entire country, has been able to observe there was no type of consent. And, we are going to prove that in the courtroom.”
State prosecutors requested the judge to consider issuing a restraining order prohibiting Rubiales from approaching Hermoso or attempting to connect with her, as well as requiring him to report to a court every 15 days to ensure he does not depart the country. The judge will have to determine whether to impose those sanctions.
Rubiales announced his resignation as head of the football federation on Sunday. He has already been suspended provisionally by football's governing body, the International Federation of Association Football.
De Jorge is conducting the preliminary inquiry into the allegations against Rubiales, after which he will decide whether the matter should proceed to trial.
Rubiales could face a fine or a prison sentence of one to four years if proven guilty of sexual assault under a sexual consent law passed in Spain last year. The new law abolished the distinction between "sexual harassment" and "sexual assault," making any non-consensual sexual behaviour legal.
(With AP inputs)