Ex-Spain boss Vilda added to Rubiales probe for alleged coercion

Spain players talk of 'stress and anxiety' caused by Rubiales incident (0:59)

Spain's Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona Caldentey on how they felt during the Luis Rubiales saga, caused by an unsolicited kiss on teammate Jenni Hermoso. (0:59)

The investigating judge at Spain's High Court has expanded the scope of a sexual assault probe over the allegedly nonconsensual kiss on women's national team player Jenni Hermoso to include Jorge Vilda, the squad's former coach, the court said on Wednesday.

Judge Francisco de Jorge is investigating whether the kiss by Spain federation former chief Luis Rubiales during the medal ceremony after Spain's World Cup victory on Aug. 20 -- and his alleged subsequent efforts to pressure Hermoso to say it was consensual -- constitute sexual abuse and coercion.

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Vilda was sacked by interim RFEF president Pedro Rocha 10 days after FIFA suspended Rubiales from his post.

The coach was widely criticised for repeatedly applauding Rubiales during an emergency RFEF assembly in which the latter railed against "false feminism" and vowed not to resign.

Originally, only Rubiales was under formal investigation, while other federation officials and players were called as witnesses.

But De Jorge has now also put Vilda, who was the national team's coach during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand that Spain clinched with a 1-0 victory against England, under investigation, a court statement said.

The statement did not elaborate. Spanish media reports have said Vilda allegedly pressured Hermoso to put out a statement exonerating Rubiales. Vilda has denied those reports.

Beatriz Álvarez, who has been in charge of Liga F since July 2022, said on Wednesday that the RFEF under Rubiales had shown a sexist attitude towards her and a lack of institutional respect for the league.

"I was not surprised at all because I knew Rubiales privately and the way he behaved in this situation was the same as in many others," she said.

The judge also changed the status of Albert Luque, the director of the men's squad, and Rubén Rivera, the federation's marketing chief, to "investigated" from previously being just witnesses.

After the controversial kiss, the RFEF issued a statement quoting Hermoso as saying the kiss was a "mutual, totally spontaneous gesture." Hermoso, however, has said that she did not want to be kissed and that she felt "vulnerable and a victim of an aggression".

Two weeks ago, de Jorge imposed a restraining order to prevent Rubiales from approaching Hermoso.

Rubiales' actions not only overshadowed the team's World Cup triumph but snowballed into a "Me Too" moment that had been building for years as the players fought for nearly a decade to combat sexism and achieve parity with their male peers.