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Ex-Spain boss Jorge Vilda denies pressuring Jenni Hermoso after kiss

Former Spain women's coach Jorge Vilda celebrates with his medal after guiding the team to the World Cup title

FILE - Former Spain women's coach Jorge Vilda celebrates with his medal after guiding the team to the World Cup title. Photo: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via AFP

Published Oct 10, 2023


Former Spain women's coach Jorge Vilda denied Tuesday pressuring midfielder Jenni Hermoso to downplay the kiss she got from former football federation president Luis Rubiales during questioning in court.

Spanish public prosecutors have accused Rubiales of sexual assault and coercion for kissing Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony after Spain beat England in the Women's World Cup final in Sydney, Australia on August 20.

Rubiales was the head of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) at the time, but he has since resigned following an outcry over the kiss.

He said the kiss was mutual and consensual, but Hermoso said it was done without her consent.

Last month Spain's top criminal court, the National Court, expanded the scope of its investigation to include Vilda and two other federation officials on suspicion of trying to get Hermoso to back Rubiales after the kiss and summoned them to appear for questioning.

During Tuesday's closed-door hearing Vilda, who was sacked as coach just weeks after the World Cup final, denied having pressured Hermoso and her brother as the player has said, judicial sources told AFP.

The federation's head of marketing, Ruben Rivera who also appeared in court on Tuesday, also denied the accusation of coercion, the sources said.

Three players — Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodríguez — have already been summoned as witnesses.

They said Hermoso and her family came under pressure from federation officials to downplay the kiss and say it was consensual in the wake of the public uproar over Rubiales' behaviour.

Hermoso has yet to be questioned in court.

She told the public prosecutor investigating the affair that during the flight back to Spain from Sydney, Vilda asked her brother to help "downplay" the kiss, according to a leaked recording of Hermoso's meeting with the prosecutor which aired late on Monday on private television Telecinco.

"My brother said he was suggesting that if I helped, things could go well for me...that it was what I had to do," she added.

The kiss sparked a global backlash, and a major crisis within Spanish football, with most of the World Cup winners refusing to play for the team until they got guarantees of leadership changes and other reforms to the scandal-hit RFEF.