Francisco de Jorge, judge of the National Court, has summoned four employees of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to testify as witnesses in the Rubiales case. According to several legal sources, the magistrate has given the green light to the interrogations of Albert Luque, director of the selection; Rubén Rivera, marketing manager; Miguel García Caba, director of the Integrity area; and Patricia Pérez, press officer for the women’s team. After the complaint from the Prosecutor’s Office, the instructor maintains an open investigation for sexual assault and coercion into the kiss that Luis Rubiales, former president of the organization, gave to the player Jennifer Hermoso after the victory in the World Cup. The date set for the statements is still unknown.
This is the first major initiative promoted by the magistrate after Rubiales declared himself as a defendant last Friday, when a restraining order of 200 meters from the player was imposed on him and he was prohibited from communicating with her. In that appearance, the former RFEF president denied that the kiss was non-consensual, as the soccer player maintains; and he rejected that, after the scandal broke out, he pressured the athlete to come out and defend her version in public. A detail that she herself reported at the Prosecutor’s Office headquarters: “In her statement, (the player) stated that both she and those closest to her suffered constant and repeated pressure from Luis Rubiales and his professional environment, to “that he justified and approved the facts,” states the complaint from the public ministry, which includes the crime of coercion at that point: “Hermoso suffered a situation of harassment, against the development of his life in peace, tranquility and freely,” he emphasizes.
During the interrogation of Rubiales, the lieutenant prosecutor of the National Court, Marta Durántez, asked precisely about this, and was interested in the role that several RFEF workers would have played in the execution of these alleged coercions. As confirmed by legal sources, the public ministry put on the table the names of five Federation employees: among them, Albert Luque, Rubén Rivera and Jorge Vilda (the latter, former coach of the women’s team). The judge has now called the first two, who allegedly traveled to Ibiza to pressure Hermoso, to testify as witnesses.
The work of the other two mentioned is also in question. Miguel García Caba, head of Integrity, wrote the internal report on the kiss with Hermoso, which exonerated the former president by ensuring that “there was no conduct that would lead to the conclusion that he forced himself, violated or attacked” the forward. For her part, according to the specialized newspaper Relevo, press chief Patricia Pérez was involved in a controversial episode: she showed the player the statement that the RFEF sent to the media after the kiss to justify Rubiales’s act, which included some alleged words spoken by the athlete. Before spreading that note, the Federation employee told the soccer player if she approved it, but she then asked if it was mandatory for her to do so. After Pérez answered “yes,” Hermoso told him “do what you want” in an “act of snub,” according to Relevo.
The judge’s push for the Rubiales case also coincides with the struggle between the players and the RFEF leadership to achieve profound changes in its structure, which has already led to the dismissal of Jorge Vilda and Andreu Camps (until this week, general secretary of the federation). The soccer players want, beyond the scope of criminal proceedings, to clarify responsibilities in the organization among those who pressured Hermoso and harassed his teammates to endorse Rubiales’ version. Two names stand out on their list—those of Rubén Rivera and Albert Luque, for the trip to Ibiza, where the players were celebrating the title—, but they also place Miguel García Caba and Pablo García Cuervo, director of Communication and Development, in the spotlight. superior of Patricia Pérez.
At the same time, the National Police has already gone to several media outlets to collect videos “related to the events,” including EL PAÍS and As. The magistrate ordered that images of the kiss be obtained “from all angles,” as well as “ the minutes immediately before and after.” Also, “from the celebration in the locker room” and “on the Spanish women’s soccer team bus.”
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